Japanese bank to pay NY $250M in laundering case

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — The Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi-UFJ Ltd. will pay $250 million to the state of New York for laundering billions of dollars in transactions that violated economic sanctions against countries including Iran, Sudan, and Myanmar, New York financial regulators said Thursday.

The state’s Department of Financial Services said the bank agreed to the fine and a year of special monitoring for handling the 28,000 U.S. dollar transactions totaling about $100 billion through its New York operation between 2002 and 2007.

BTMU employees routinely removed information from wire transfer messages that could have identified the government and business entities involved as targets of sanctions, the department said.

BTMU said Thursday it reported the violations to its regulators and stopped the practice in 2007.

“Since 2007, BTMU has significantly improved its compliance policies and procedures,” the bank said. “BTMU is committed to conducting business with the highest levels of integrity and regulatory compliance, and to continually improving its policies and procedures.”

It said it will continue to cooperate with regulators.

BTMU is Japan’s largest bank when ranked by assets, according to SNL Financial.

As part of the agreement with New York, an independent consultant will monitor compliance with sanctions and measures taken to correct the problems at BTMU’s New York branch. That monitor will report to state regulators.

That consultant will operate under new standards the state DFS announced this week to ensure their objectivity and independence from the institutions they are monitoring.

BTMU will also give the DFS a plan to improve its compliance with bank secrecy and anti-money laundering rules. That plan is subject to approval by the department.

“BTMU took an important step today toward addressing these serious transgressions. It is vital that companies continue to self-report violations and those that do not run the risk of even more severe consequences,” Benjamin Lawsky, the state superintendent of financial services, said Thursday.

Last year, Britain’s Standard Chartered Bank agreed to pay $340 million to settle New York allegations it violated sanctions by processing billions of U.S. dollar transactions for Iranian interests.

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