FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 13, 2004
Contact: Robert M. Garsson
OCC Assesses $25 Million Penalty Against Riggs Bank N.A.
WASHINGTON — The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency announced today that it has assessed a $25 million civil money penalty against Riggs Bank N.A. for numerous violations of the Bank Secrecy Act. In a separate enforcement action, the OCC imposed a number of new requirements aimed at ensuring compliance with the Bank Secrecy Act and other reporting requirements.
In assessing the penalty, the OCC found that the bank had failed to implement an effective anti-money laundering program. As a result, it did not detect or investigate suspicious transactions and had not filed Suspicious Activity Reports as required under the law. The bank also did not collect or maintain sufficient information about its foreign banking customers.
The OCC found a number of problems with the bank's account relationships with foreign governments, including Saudi Arabia and Equatorial Guinea. Riggs failed to properly monitor, and report as suspicious, transactions involving tens of millions of dollars in cash withdrawals, international drafts that were returned to the bank, and numerous sequentially-numbered cashier's checks.
"The Bank Secrecy Act has been enormously helpful in providing law enforcement agencies with information about illicit activities," said Comptroller of the Currency John D. Hawke, Jr. "Today, it is one more weapon we can bring to bear in the war on terrorism. The OCC expects banks to have effective anti-money laundering programs in place and we will take strong action against any national bank that is not in compliance with this important law."
The penalty assessment is concurrent with the $25 million penalty assessed against Riggs by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). The penalties will be satisfied by one payment of $25 million to the Department of the Treasury.
In a separate order, the OCC directed the bank to take a number of steps to correct deficiencies in its internal controls, particularly in the area of the Bank Secrecy Act and anti-money laundering efforts. Among other requirements, the OCC directed the bank to:
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