Jonathan Bush’s Riggs Bank has been found guilty of laundering terrorist funds and fined a US-record $25 million.
This story appears on one of those “amazing 9/11 coincidence” lists that you’ll find online from time to time. Unfortunately, it’s not quite true.
Inside safe deposit boxes at Riggs Bank is more than $710 million in cashier's checks that Riggs doesn't want. Neither does any other bank.
The stash, once in checking accounts held by the embassies of Saudi Arabia and Equatorial Guinea, is likely to grow. After being fined $25 million for violating anti-money-laundering laws in its embassy banking division, Riggs has asked more than 100 embassy clients to find other banking arrangements by mid-July, according to sources familiar with the matter who spoke on condition they not be identified.
So the fine was for "violating anti-money laundering laws". Later in the article it says investigators had reached “no conclusions about the reasons for the transactions”, so terrorist connections can’t be ruled out, but at that time (June 2004) there was no definitive evidence to suggest these were terrorist funds.
And what about later? Here's a report from January 27th 2005:
"Riggs Bank... pleaded guilty Thursday to a federal charge of failing to report to regulators suspicious transactions worth hundreds of millions of dollars involving foreign diplomats and governments.
Under a deal announced in U.S. District Court in Washington, Riggs will pay a criminal penalty of $16 million but will avoid more serious money laundering charges.
The old-line Washington bank, which built its prestige on catering to world leaders and diplomats, admitted criminal activity in handling accounts associated with former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet and officials of the government of Equatorial Guinea. Although the wide-ranging investigation of money laundering and possible terrorist financing included a probe of Riggs accounts of Saudi Arabian diplomats, prosecutors emphasized there were no Saudi-related charges in the plea agreement...
Prosecutors said the probe of foreign and diplomatic accounts at Riggs are completed, and no other government will be implicated".
The conclusion, then, is that there was no terrorist involvement. Riggs Bank has still been fined over $41 million, though, which to the uncommitted might suggest there's no great conspiracy to protect the business affairs of members of the Bush family.