Dutch lawyer Göran Sluiter and his Mexican client Fernando Hernandez filed a criminal complaint in a court in the Netherlands this week against Dutch banking giant the Rabobank for its alleged involvement in laundering money for Mexican drug cartels at one of its subsidiaries in the border city of Calexico in the United States.
According to Sluiter, between 2010 and 2015, the Calexico branch of the Rabobank accepted cash deposits from drug dealers working for Mexican cartels, which it subsequently laundered in its vast international banking system by making it impossible to determine the origin of the sums of money.
In doing so, Sluiter says, the Rabobank supported the drug cartels that are involved in widespread violence, including kidnapping, torture, and murder. “Money laundering kills,” he told Dutch media.
“Mexican citizens are suffering because of the cartels and their crimes,” Sluiter explained. “They are able to commit these crimes because of their enormous wealth. This wealth, these mountains of cash, needs to be put somewhere, needs to be laundered. They do so at banks. And they did this at Rabobank as well. This makes these banks bear responsibility for the crimes these cartels commit.”
Sluiter is filing these charges on behalf of his client Fernando Hernandez, who lost his uncle in 2010 after local police handed him over to a drug cartel, after which he was never seen again. Between 150,000 and 200,000 died since 2006 because of the drug wars in Mexico, Hernandez told Dutch reporters. He came to the Netherlands because of the human rights organizations here and saw a possibility to take action against those involved.
“It’s not only about who commits the crimes but also who benefits from them,” he said. “And we believe the Rabobank benefitted from these crimes.”
Asked if he fears for his life, Hernandez showed courage and defiance, saying, “If something happens to me and my family, then I’m right, then we hit a spot, we are on the right path pointing out the relationship between the Rabobank and the cartels. We have chosen to fight. In Mexico, we are tired of just being still and getting killed.”
“We want justice,” Sluiter added.
The Rabobank refuses to comment on ongoing cases, but did say that the situation had since changed for the better. Its Calexico branch was shut down soon after United States authorities began investigating it.
“There is no reason why the Rabobank and its officials should be treated differently than any other defendant,” Sluiter said, explaining that when someone can’t pay their mortgage or is late on a payment the bank will not be content with the client explaining that was all in the past and that from now on payments will be on time.
With the nefarious influence of money laundering and tax evasion on society becoming clearer every day, the pressure from citizens and law enforcement on banks is increasing. No longer can they hide behind ignorance. It is time that they play by society’s rules.
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