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On September 20, BuzzFeed News and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) published the FinCEN Files, a comprehensive investigation of global financial institutions involving “more than 400 reporters in 88 countries”. The FinCEN Files investigation purportedly “reveal[s] how some of the world’s biggest banks have facilitated the work of notorious terrorists, drug cartels, and despots” and centers around more than 2,100 suspicious activity reports (“SARs”) submitted to the US Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”). Banks and other financial institutions submit SARs when they observe transactions that suggest money laundering or other illegal activity, and while these reports can support investigations and intelligence gathering, they are not by themselves evidence of a crime. The FinCen Files included SARs filed by nearly 90 financial institutions.
Bank of America Corporation (NYSE: BAC) is one of several financial institutions that Buzzfeed News claimed “collectively processed millions of dollars in transactions for the family of Viktor Khrapunov, the former mayor of Kazakhstan’s most populous city, even after Interpol issued a Red Notice for his arrest. Khrapunov, who had already fled to Switzerland and who claims the allegations are politically motivated, was later convicted in absentia on charges that included bribe-taking and defrauding the city through the sale of public property.”
Based on the above news, shares of Bank of America fell by more than 4% in intraday trading on September 21, 2020.