Dirty Cash and Tarnished Vaults

Two large U.S. banks struggle to recover from serious missteps

Few of Boston's hallowed institutions are held in such respect as the First National Bank, which was founded in 1784. Yet last week First National was under humiliating scrutiny. Politicians, stockholders and the press were asking tough questions about First National's admission that it had broken the law by making unreported cash shipments of $1.2 billion to and from foreign banks.

New disclosures last week raised the possibility that the institution has been involved, perhaps unknowingly, in money laundering, the booming illegal business of covering up the origin of funds earned from drug trafficking and other crimes. Growing concern about the...

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