Western Union fined $60m for AML violations
Written by Chris Lemmon
The New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) has fined money transfer firm Western Union $60 million for violations of the New York Bank Secrecy Act and anti-money laundering (AML) laws.
Following an investigation, the DFS found that Western Union had failed to implement and maintain an anti-money laundering compliance programme for over a decade. Such programmes are designed to deter, detect and report on criminals’ use of its electronic network to facilitate fraud, money laundering and the illegal structuring of transactions below amounts that would trigger reporting requirements.
The investigation also found that Western Union executives and managers ignored, and failed to report suspicious transactions to Western Union locations in China by several agencies in New York, other states and around the world – that may have aided human trafficking, according to the DFS.
DFS’s Superintendent Maria Vullo said: “Western Union executives put profits ahead of the company’s responsibilities to detect and prevent money laundering and fraud, by choosing to maintain relationships with and failing to discipline obviously suspect, but highly profitable, agents.
“DFS will not tolerate unlawful activity that undermines anti-money laundering laws and endangers the integrity of our financial system.”
A statement from Western Union said: “We share the New York Department of Financial Services’ goal of protecting consumers and the integrity of our global money transfer network. We have acknowledged that certain conduct in the 2004 to 2012 period fell short of that goal, but we have made substantial improvements since then as part of our commitment to continually enhance our compliance programs.”