Bank of China Targeted by U.S. Over Money-Laundering Controls

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January 20, 2016

Bank of China Ltd. must boost its money-laundering protections in the U.S. in response to a regulator’s enforcement action that cited deficiencies involving one of the world’s biggest lenders.

The yet-to-be-disclosed case was brought by the U.S. Office the Comptroller of the Currency, according to a copy of the regulator’s order obtained by Bloomberg News. The OCC routinely leaves a bank’s specific transgressions out of enforcement actions, so the agreement doesn’t detail what Bank of China’s U.S. operations did wrong. The regulator hasn’t imposed a fine.

It’s China’s “most international and diversified bank” — according to documents it filed with U.S. regulators — and is still majority-owned by the government. Bank of China’s global reach was built over a century, from its one-time status as the country’s central bank to its role managing China’s foreign-exchange operations. It listed as a public company in 2004 and bought a new office tower near Manhattan’s Bryant Park last year.

In July, another giant, state-owned Chinese bank, China Construction Bank Corp., faced an enforcement action from the Federal Reserve similar to Bank of China’s OCC action. The Fed ordered the lender to tighten the money-laundering controls in its New York branch.