WASHINGTON-The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network and the Office of Thrift Supervision recently announced that each agency placed a hefty fine on BankAtlantic of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. for Bank Secrecy Act violations.
A $10 million fine has been levied against the financial institution for what FinCEN and OTS called systemic defects they found in BankAtlantic's anti-money laundering program that resulted in the failure to timely file suspicious activity reports. "This case, which involved tens of millions of dollars in unreported suspicious financial transactions, including more than $10 million in suspected drug proceeds, is an example of serious and systemic violations of BSA requirements," FinCEN Director Robert W. Werner stated. "The actions taken today highlight how consequential it is for banks to have an effective anti-money laundering program in place to ensure that the financial system is not used to facilitate criminal activity."
FinCEN and OTS' accompanying Cease and Desist Orders against BankAtlantic required certain corrective actions. Without admitting or denying fault in the allegations, the institution consented to the penalty and the orders from the agencies.
OTS Director John Reich reassured that, "the vast majority of insured depository institutions have BSA-compliant programs in place."
Banking regulators have made a series of civil money penalties against a handful of banks with some in the tens of millions of dollars over the last couple of years. Financial services regulators have beefed up their scrutinization of this segment of the examination process to better prevent money laundering and terrorist financing. Only one credit union has been found by NCUA to have serious BSA violations in that time, but no monetary penalties were levied in that instance.