Saddle river valley bank agrees to $8.2 million penalty for money laundering violations

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Saddle River Valley Bank (SRVB) today agreed to pay an $8.2 million penalty to settle claims that it violated federal anti-money laundering laws, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman, District of New Jersey; Department of the Treasury Financial Crime Enforcement Network Director Jennifer Shasky Calvery; and Comptroller of the Currency Thomas J. Curry announced…

According to the complaint:

Beginning at least as early as 2000, numerous federal agencies, including the Department of State, the Department of the Treasury, the Federal Reserve Bank, and the IRS, began issuing public warnings to United States financial institutions about the increased money laundering threat present in Mexico. These warnings were also available through industry-wide advisories.  It was believed that the proceeds of narcotics sales in the United States were being disproportionately laundered and transferred through banking institutions in Mexico. Many of these warnings also discussed the specific money laundering risks associated with “casas de cambio,” (CDCs), which are non-bank currency exchange businesses located in Mexico and elsewhere.

Beginning in June 2009, SRVB began servicing what would ultimately become four CDCs, including three CDCs in Mexico and one in the Dominican Republic. SRVB voluntarily severed its relationship with the CDCs by May 2011, but only after processing at least $1.5 billion in transactions on behalf of the CDCs. SRVB’s anti-money laundering program related to the CDCs was deficient in several key areas

SRVB failed to:

  •            appropriately monitor at least $1.5 billion in transactions conducted on behalf of the CDCs;
  •            properly detect and report suspicious activity occurring within the CDC accounts and file Suspicious Activity Reports on a timely basis;
  •            conduct sufficient enhanced due diligence on the CDCs;
  •            have a BSA officer or other personnel with sufficient experience to operate an AML program;
  •            provide adequate training to its employees concerning anti-money laundering;
  •            retain qualified periodic independent testers for its anti-money laundering program, as required by the BSA.

After a joint investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey and the OCC, SRVB agreed to an assessed civil monetary penalty by the OCC of $4. 1 million for the deficiencies in its anti-money laundering program.  SRVB has agreed to a concurrent civil monetary penalty by FinCEN of $4.1 million, to be satisfied by one payment to the U.S. Treasury Department on behalf of both actions by the OCC and FinCEN. SRVB also agreed to surrender and forfeit an additional $4.1 million to the United States to resolve the investigation conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey and the OCC, for a total penalty of $8.2 million.

DOJ press release link: click here