Japanese bank to pay US $315M in laundering case

AP News
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Posted: Nov 18, 2014 2:57 PM

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ agreed to pay $315 million and sanction some employees to resolve allegations it misled New York regulators about bank transactions that violated U.S. economic sanctions against several countries, including Iran, Sudan and Myanmar.

The state's Department of Financial Services said Tuesday that bank employees pressured a consultant, PricewaterhouseCoopers, to remove warnings to regulators in a report the bank submitted about the extent of illicit conduct.

In June 2013, Bank of Tokyo agreed to pay $250 million to the DFS and have a year of special monitoring over how it handled about 28,000 U.S. dollar transactions totaling about $100 billion from 2002 to 2007.

Under the new settlement agreement announced Tuesday, two former bank compliance employees are banned from business involving any New York-regulated bank. A third sanctioned employee resigned, the Department of Financial Services said.

"It is clear that we as a regulatory community must work aggressively to reform the cozy relationship between banks and consultants, which far too often has resulted in shoddy work that sweeps wrongdoing under the rug," department Superintendent Benjamin Lawsky said. "We continue to believe that fines — while often necessary — are not sufficient to deter misconduct on Wall Street. We must also work to impose individual accountability, where appropriate and clearly proven, on specific bank employees that engaged in wrongdoing."

According to department investigators, PricewaterhouseCoopers was pressured to improperly alter a "historical transaction review" report submitted to regulators on wire transfers that the bank performed on behalf of sanctioned countries and entities. Information deleted from drafts included an English translation of the bank's instructions about stripping information from wire transfers for "enemy countries" of the U.S. and other references to the activity.

The bank issued a statement Tuesday confirming the consent agreement, saying it will make the payment and "take actions on persons involved in the matter." It also said it would move its U.S. sanctions compliance programs to New York and extend — if regarded as necessary by DFS — the third-party assessment of its compliance controls.

"BTMU is committed to conducting business with the highest levels of integrity and regulatory compliance and to continually improving its policies and procedures," the bank said.