How a lone intelligence analyst and the US Justice Department caught Barclays and Lloyds red-handed.

The American authorities have just released details of an Iranian money-laundering sting. It’d be nice to think that it involved the Bank of Tehran, The Bank of Libya, the Bank of North Korea and other such miscreants. But this would be far from the truth.

In 2006, a US intelligence analyst named Eitan Arusy began studying a slim lead. Suspicious money was flowing to and from an Iranian ‘charity’ operating in a Fifth Avenue office tower in Midtown Manhattan. Mr. Arusy’s probe was later merged with a Justice Department inquiry, and ultimately widened to some of Europe’s top banks, helping spark a global inquiry that found those involved knowingly and actively evaded U.S. law in aiding sanctioned countries, banks or other enterprises move some $2 billion undetected.

Two of them – among the biggest culprits, in fact – are our very own Barclays and Lloyds. They have plea-bargained their way out of this self-created sink of iniquity – but been forced to cough up $300M and $250M respectively. The chief deal-makers Credit Suisse have in turn paid some $535M in fines.

They’re wonderful things banks, aren’t they? Charge you to get at your own money, spend your money stupidly, take your tax monies to stay in business, raise your charges to repair their balance sheets, pay themselves enormous bonuses despite all that, carry on doing the same things all over again….and bankroll terrorists.

In case the usual pedants grumbling about sources and links think I’ve made all this up, by the way, the full article can be viewed here….at the Wall Street Journal. I have made it a policy never to link to anything with Murdoch’s grubby fingerprints on it. But this is good journalism, so I’m making an exception.