FinCEN hands down first enforcement action of year

November 19, 2012

In its first penalty action of the year, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, working alongside the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., slapped the First Bank of Delaware with a $15 million civil fine for violating anti-money laundering laws.

The order comes as federal regulators and prosecutors are stepping up efforts to go after banks for allowing millions of dollars from drug traffickers, terrorists or countries under sanctions to illegally move through the U.S. financial system.

Regulators say the First Bank failed to monitor its third-party payment processors and implement internal controls designed to detect evidence of money laundering. The bank, for instance, processed more than $1.4 billion in Automated Clearing House transactions, which is used for direct-deposit, primarily through a single customer who was not properly vetted.

“To make money, First Bank of Delaware entered into risky lines of business and chose to disregard its Bank Secrecy Act responsibilities,” FinCEN Director Jennifer Shasky Calvery said in a statement.

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