Federal Reserve Orders Citigroup to Improve Money Laundering Checks

Tuesday, 26 Mar 2013 11:35 AM

 

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The Federal Reserve has ordered Citigroup Inc to better police for the risk of money laundering, part of a broad U.S. regulatory crackdown on the potential for illicit money flows.

The Fed told Citigroup's board to submit a plan within 60 days to improve its oversight of companywide anti-money laundering compliance, according to a consent order dated March 21, but only made public on Tuesday.

The order expands upon similar orders directed at several Citigroup units in 2012.

The plan should include funding personnel and resources based on the risks of different units — policies that instill a "proactive approach" to identifying and managing money-laundering risks — and measures to ensure employees adhere to those compliance policies, the Fed said.

Citigroup said in a statement that it had made "substantial progress" in strengthening its compliance program and addressing risks throughout the company.

"Citi continues to take the appropriate steps to address remaining requirements and build a strong and sustainable program," the bank said.

U.S. authorities have stepped up enforcement of anti-money laundering laws in an effort to clamp down on conduct ranging from drug trafficking to terrorism, and have entered into cease and desist orders with top banks including JPMorgan Chase and others related to weak internal controls.

In December, HSBC Holdings Plc agreed to pay a record $1.9 billion, in part to resolve charges that it failed to detect money from drug trafficking which was flowing from Mexico into the United States.

Citibank, Citigroup's consumer bank, had entered into a consent order with the Office of the U.S. Comptroller of the Currency in April 2012 to fix problems with its compliance with the Bank Secrecy Act, the law that requires banks to report suspicious activity to regulators.

Last August, the FDIC and the California Department of Financial Institutions also ordered Citigroup's Mexican subsidiary, Banamex, to address problems with its compliance program.

The Fed did not specifically say how much Citi has done to fix the issues raised by the previous orders. It said it is requiring the bank to "continue ongoing enhancements," and said that last year's settlements showed that Citigroup also needed to address compliance weaknesses at the holding company level.

"As evidenced by the deficiencies ... that led to the issuance of the OCC and FDIC consent orders ... Citigroup lacked effective systems of governance and internal controls to adequately oversee the activities of the Banks," the Fed said in its order.

Citi neither admitted nor denied the Fed's findings under the order, the U.S. central bank said.

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

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