The lifeblood of the apartheid state was undoubtedly its well-resourced military — used to suppress uprisings, kill demonstrators, wage war in Namibia, Angola and Mozambique, and conduct murderous raids against anti-apartheid activists in neighbouring states.

Now, evidence gathered and released by nonprofit Open Secrets paints a picture of how two European banks grew rich by keeping that lifeblood pumping, through an elaborate money-laundering web that enabled the apartheid government to buy hundreds of billions of rands in weapons, despite UN sanctions.

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