FinCEN Penalizes Texas Bank for Violations of Anti-Money Laundering Laws

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November 01, 2017

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) today announced the assessment of a $2 million civil money penalty against Lone Star National Bank (Lone Star) of Pharr, Texas for willfully violating the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA). The action underscores the dangers that institutions face when taking on international correspondence activities without properly equipping themselves to manage such business. As noted in FinCEN’s assessment, among other lapses, Lone Star failed to comply with section 312 of the USA PATRIOT Act, which imposes specific due diligence obligations with respect to correspondent banking.

Many of the lapses in Lone Star’s BSA compliance were previously covered in an earlier action by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), but FinCEN’s action focusing on the bank’s 312 violations specifically highlights the need for a financial institution to avoid taking on international business for which it is not prepared. Lone Star’s Mexican financial institution customer was moving millions of dollars through Lone Star in a manner inconsistent with the parameters of a relationship which, at the outset, required greater scrutiny. Lone Star failed to identify and consider public information about the foreign bank owner’s alleged involvement in securities fraud. It also failed to verify the accuracy of assertions by the foreign bank with respect to source of funds, purpose of the account, and expected activity.