Almost all the banks in the world do business with a company called Swift. While they sort of claim they are a “message transfer” company, they are in effect the clearing house for all inter-bank transaction between bank that have no peer-to-peer relationship. Read: they process virtually all international money transfers. It’s headquarters is located in Belgium. It turns out that the FBI and the CIA can more or less without anything more than asking, look into all transactions done through Swift. Even worse, if say a Dutch bank has an office in New York, questions about transfers done entirely within the Netherlands would be answered without much hesitation. Without question this is illegal. While this has caused a row in many European countries, it has gone more or less unnoticed in my country. That has changed now. The banks need to stick to the law too. Not that money flows cannot be traced for crime investigation, but a court order is needed AND clients should be informed that especially international money transfers can be scrutinized by foreign security agencies. Now if you think “so what?” imagine mr. Putin’s lot going over your bank statements. No, that is not something different.