Today Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division announced that Banamex USA (BUSA), a financial institution based in Los Angeles, California, and a subsidiary of Citigroup Inc., agreed to forfeit $97.44 million and entered into a non-prosecution agreement (NPA) to resolve an investigation into BUSA’s Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) violations. In its agreement with the Justice Department, BUSA admitted to criminal violations by willfully failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering (AML) compliance program with appropriate policies, procedures, and controls to guard against money laundering and willfully failing to file Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs).
According to admissions contained in the NPA and the accompanying statement of facts, from at least 2007 until at least 2012, BUSA processed more than 30 million remittance transactions to Mexico with a total value of more than $8.8 billion. During the same period, BUSA’s monitoring system issued more than 18,000 alerts involving more than $142 million in potentially suspicious remittance transactions. BUSA, however, conducted fewer than 10 investigations and filed only nine SARs in connection with these 18,000-plus alerts, filing no SARs on remittance transactions between 2010 and 2012.
BUSA also admitted that, for several years, BUSA recognized that it should have improved its monitoring of MSB remittances but failed to do so. BUSA employed a limited and manual transaction monitoring system, running only two scenarios to identify suspicious activity on the millions of remittance transactions it processed.