Anti-Money Laundering (AML) programs continue to help financial institutions minimize money laundering, illegal activity funding, and fraud in a general sense. Governments worldwide regulate these programs to ensure they can assist financial institutions of various fields, such as banks, insurance, and mortgage companies, fintech, savings and loan associations, credit unions, brokerage firms, and others.
As of 2022, money laundering continues to be one of the most committed crimes around the world. Such crime attempts are still being tried in significant amounts. Nonetheless, it can be seen that the greater the attempt, the greater the fine. Thanks to successful AML programs such as Sanction Scanner, justice concerning money-laundering crimes are being enforced better than ever before. The environment that has been created is a great relief for both companies and customers who want to make their transactions without any risks.
In light of this information, we will be looking at some of the fines enforced in 2022 for money-laundering crimes, many of them thanks to AML Compliance programs. Please remember that these companies or people may currently aim to recover their lost reputation because of the said incidents. In addition, you can learn more about the AML fines of 2021 here.
|Largest AML Fine Cases|
|The Star Sydney|
|The National Bank of Pakistan|
|Ghana International Bank|
|Wells Fargo Bank|
|Mishcon de Reya|
Recent Examples of Money Laundering Attempts and AML Fines
USAA Federal Savings Bank, which mainly does business with members and veterans of the US Army, is a bank with roots dating back to the 1900s. Nonetheless, the joint investigation by The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the US Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network has found inadequacies in AML Compliance. In the end, USAA has been fined $140M in total, perhaps the most significant AML fine of this year.
The Star Sydney
Australian gambling company Star Entertainment Group has failed to stop money laundering incidents in one of their casinos named The Star Sydney. The group has also lost its license to operate the casino.
Fine: A$100,000,000 ($62,000,000)
The National Bank of Pakistan
Several US authorities, including the Federal Reserve Board and the New York State Department of Financial Services, have announced that the National Bank of Pakistan has received more than $55M in fines due to AML violations and repeated compliance failures.
The US Department of Treasury announced that the cryptocurrency exchange company Bittrex has agreed to the proposed fines due to the company’s AML and sanction violations. After the joint investigation by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), Bittrex settled on a total of $53M fine. This incident has again proved the vulnerability of the cryptocurrency market against money laundering incidents.
The online brokerage site Robinhood’s cryptocurrency trading unit has been fined by The New York State Department of Financial Services due to failures in AML and cybersecurity regulations. Business website Thomson Reuters has put forward several lessons to take from this incident, specifically the need for separate and tailored AML programs for parent companies and their subsidiaries.
Ghana International Bank
The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority has found Ghana International Bank failed to perform the additional AML checks required between January 2012 and December 2016. In addition, the bank provided correspondent banking services to several lenders, allowing them to provide products and payment services, thus acting as a bank all but in the name.
Fine: £5,800,000 ($7,100,000)
Wells Fargo Bank
According to the US Securities and Exchange Commission, financial service provider Wells Fargo has failed to file several Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) between April 2017 and October 2021. This lapse was reported to be happened from failure to properly implement and test a new version of its internal AML transaction monitoring and alert system.
Danske Bank A/S’s Irish branch has been reprimanded and fined by The Central Bank of Ireland due to its failures in transaction monitoring, enhanced customer due diligence, and AML procedures.
Fintech company Wise’s Abu Dhabi local subsidiary has been fined due to breaching AML requirements. United Arab Emirates has taken AML Compliance issues seriously and continues to deliver fines in millions annually.
Mishcon de Reya
Mishcon de Reya, one of the UK’s most prestigious law firms, provided services to two unnamed individuals from 2015 to 2017. The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has conducted an investigation concerning these clients. In the outcome, the firm was found to have failed to carry out the required level of due diligence or ongoing monitoring.
Chinese tech giant Tencent is currently accused of allowing illegal money transactions on their mobile payments service, WeChat Pay. Although Tencent’s case is still ongoing, the accusation’s effect is too significant to miss: The company’s shares have fallen nearly 10% during March 2022.
Fine: Currently, none.
What Awaits Us in 2023?
Like recent years, 2022 has been a busy year regarding AML Compliance fines. Nonetheless, many of the imposed fines during this year date back several years due to the duration of trials and other factors. Perhaps the decrease in AML Compliance issues will finally be visible in several years, thanks to today’s AML Compliance programs and the close cooperation between governments and some companies.
Many of the points from the previous year’s “Expected 2022 Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Trends” blog entry have become real. Those who have taken various risks into consideration in money laundering have managed to avoid fines.
Like in previous years, Sanction Scanner will be eager to help you correctly process AML Compliance in the following years.