Just as mingling with dogs draws fleas, dealing with despots invites sanctions.
Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi-UFJ, Japan’s largest bank, agreed to pay $250 million in fines to New York state on Thursday for transferring illicit funds on behalf of regimes in Iran, Sudan and Myanmar, according to New York officials.
The bank moved billions of dollars through New York for government and private businesses between 2002 and 2007 in the three countries, on which the U.S. Treasury Department has imposed sanctions, state officials said.
Employees were instructed in written rules to “omit” information about transactions involving an “enemy country” to “avoid freezing of funds,” Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s office said in a statement on Thursday.
“The state is providing tough oversight of the financial institutions in New York to protect our economy and communities in the wake of the recent financial crisis,” Cuomo said in the statement. “We identified nearly 28,000 illegal transactions totaling $100 billion by BTMU with countries under international sanctions in clear violations of New York State law.”
Aside from the fines, the bank must also install an independent consultant for one year who will report to the Department of Financial Services and monitor BTMU’s New York branch.
“BTMU took an important step today toward addressing these serious transgressions,” Benjamin M. Lawsky, the state’s superintendent of financial services, said in a statement. “It is vital that companies continue to self-report violations, and those that do not run the risk of even more severe consequences.”
Spokesmen for the bank and Lawsky’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.