US claims anti-money laundering policy is ‘not zero tolerance’

Added 2nd September 2016

The US Treasury has sought to soften the perception of its enforcement of an anti-money laundering (AML) regime against international banks, by emphasising that its policy is not one of “zero tolerance”.

US claims anti-money laundering policy is ‘not zero tolerance’

The regime it operated was “fair and effective”, the US department said in a statement and factsheet, with about 95% of anti-money laundering (AML), countering the finance of terrorism (CFT) and sanctions compliance problems getting corrected through cautionary letters or other guidance without the need for an enforcement action or penalty.

The statement is aimed at countering moves by international banks to withdraw correspondent banking services from jurisdictions or certain regions for de-risking reasons.

“The rare but highly visible cases of large monetary penalties or settlements for AML/CFT and sanctions violations have generally involved a sustained pattern of reckless or willful violations over a period of multiple years and a failure by the institutions’ senior management to respond to warning signs that their actions were illegal.  These large cases did not represent small or unintentional mistakes,” it said.

The fact sheet also dispelled “certain myths” about US supervisory expectations, “notably that there is no general expectation for banks to conduct due diligence on the individual customers of foreign financial institutions”.

The US Treasury said it regarded the expansion of access to the US financial system around the world and the protection of it from abuse as mutually-reinforcing goals.  

“Along with our colleagues in the federal banking agencies, we are committed to ensuring a well-functioning, accessible, transparent, resilient, safe, and sound financial system.”

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Mark Battersby

Editor, International Adviser

International Adviser

Mark Battersby is editor of International Adviser. He is also programme director for International Adviser events in strategic expat locations around the world, and its flagship FundLinks conference in London. Mark joined Last Word Media in February 2012, having previously worked at Citywire, Interactive Investor International, and FT Business.

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