Dutch bank pays steep price for ignoring US sanctions on Iran and Cuba
Dutch bank ING has agreed to pay a record $619 million fine after admitting that it moved money from Iran and Cuba through US banks despite sanctions forbidding the practice.
A major Netherlands bank has agreed to forfeit $619 million as part of a settlement agreement with federal prosecutors investigating a 13-year conspiracy at the bank that helped Cuba and Iran bypass US economic sanctions.Skip to next paragraph
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ING Bank, headquartered in Amsterdam, admitted that its executives and employees participated in a scheme that facilitated more than $2 billion in Cuban and Iranian financial transactions via the US banking system despite American laws barring such contacts and commerce.
According to federal court documents made public on Tuesday, prosecutors accused the bank of violating sanctions under the Trading with the Enemy Act by facilitating dollar transactions on behalf of Cuba and Cuban entities. They also said the bank’s dealings with Iran and Iranian entities undercut sanctions against that country under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.
A single criminal charge was filed in US District Court in Washington on Tuesday alleging that ING Bank conspired to conceal the movement of Cuban and Iranian funds through the US banking system. The case involves more than 20,000 transactions and more than 133 million payment messages.
No ING executives or employees were charged with violating US law. Under a deferred prosecution agreement, the company has accepted responsibility for its criminal conduct and that of its employees, officials said. The bank also agrees to cooperate in any further investigation.
“The fine announced today is the largest ever against a bank in connection with an investigation into US sanctions violations,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security Lisa Monaco said in a statement.
“For more than a decade, ING Bank helped provide state sponsors of terror and other sanctioned entities with access to the US financial system, allowing them to move billions of dollars through US banks,” she said.
Bank employees routinely removed references to Iran and Cuba from financial and trade transactions to avoid raising red flags that might result in the funds being seized. They even used a screening program developed by the US Treasury Department to ensure that US-based banks and government officials would not be able to detect Cuban or Iranian links to the funds.