Banking: Cleaning Up the Cash Laundry

Cleaning Up the Cash Laundry

Bankers used to pride themselves on being discreetly incurious about their depositors, even those who walked in with suitcases full of cash. But nowadays any American banker who looks the other way is looking for trouble. Reason: the Federal Government is trying to stamp out money laundering, the process by which banks often unwittingly help drug dealers, loan sharks and other criminals convert their conspicuous piles of small bills into checks and other instruments.

Last week four major New York City banks -- Chase Manhattan, Chemical, Irving Trust and Manufacturers Hanover -- paid fines totaling $1.2 million for failing to tell...

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