Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi-UFJ, Ltd (“BTMU”) has agreed to pay $250 million to the New York State Department of Financial Services (“DFS”) for violations of New York Banking Law in connection with transactions involving countries and entities subject to international sanctions, including the regimes of Iran, Sudan, and Myanmar.
Between 2002 and 2007, BTMU moved billions of dollars through New York for government and privately owned entities in Iran, Sudan, and Myanmar, and entities on the Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list issued by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). BTMU agreed that the conduct at issue involved approximately 28,000 U.S. dollar clearing transactions through New York totaling an estimated $100 billion.
During the period of those violations, BTMU systematically engaged in a practice under which its employees removed information from wire transfer messages that could have been used to identify the involvement of countries and persons subject to international sanctions. In fact, BTMU established written operational instructions on this practice, instructing employees that “in order to avoid freezing of funds” they should “omit” information that could have identified the fact that the transactions involved an “enemy country.”
“The State is providing tough oversight of the financial institutions in New York to protect our economy and communities in the wake of the recent financial crisis,” Governor Cuomo said. “We identified nearly 28,000 illegal transactions totaling $100 billion by BTMU with countries under international sanctions in clear violations of New York State law. Today’s agreement will send a clear message that we are working aggressively to restore and uphold accountability on Wall Street, and those who try to go around the law will be caught.”
Benjamin M. Lawsky, Superintendent of Financial Services, said, “We have and will continue to take a hard line in rooting out misconduct at banks that threatens our national security. Whenever and wherever we uncover serious wrongdoing, we will take strong enforcement action to protect our country from money laundering, terrorism, and other dangerous misdeeds.”