Madrid/Rome — A few minutes before 8pm on August 8 2012, two Chinese living in Spain — a banker and her client — held a blunt phone conversation. Wang Jing was a senior officer at the Madrid branch of the state-controlled Industrial and Commercial Bank of China. The client, Xu Kai, was an alleged top figure in an international money laundering group that was suspected of using the bank to transfer illegal income to China. The network was allegedly using multiple accounts in the name of Chinese residents of Spain, in some cases without their permission, to make the transfers. But there had been a hitch. Earlier that day, banker Wang said, a woman had come to the branch to complain that transfers were being made from her account without her knowledge. Wang chided Xu, telling her to make sure that account holders used in the scheme were on board. "You have to look out for yourself and make sure these people are obedient," Wang warned. More complaints would lead to "problems" for the ba...

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