WASHINGTON – The United States subsidiary of Dutch bank Rabobank has been ordered to pay $368.7 million after pleading guilty to obstructing regulators in a money laundering case involving Mexican drug traffickers, the US Department of Justice said in a statement on Wednesday night.
Rabobank pleaded guilty to “conspiracy to defraud the United States” and to “corruptly obstruct an examination of a financial institution,” according to the statement.
The Dutch bank admitted that its “deficient anti-money laundering program” allowed “hundreds of millions of dollars in untraceable cash, sourced from Mexico and elsewhere, to be deposited into its rural bank branches in Imperial County (bordering Mexico),” the department said.
These deposits were later transferred “via wire transfers, checks, and cash transactions, without proper notification to federal regulators as required by law.”
Moreover, during an inspection by the Department of the Treasury’s Office of the Comptroller of the Currency in 2012, “Rabobank executives actively sought to hide and minimize the deficiencies in its AML program in an effort to deceive the regulators as to its true state in hopes of avoiding regulatory sanctions that had previously been imposed on Rabobank in 2006 and 2008 for nearly identical failures.”
“When Rabobank learned that substantial numbers of its customers’ transactions were indicative of international narcotics trafficking, organized crime, and money laundering activities, it chose to look the other way and to cover up deficiencies in its anti-money laundering program,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan, of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.