(Newsroom America) -- ING Bank N.V. in Amsterdam has agreed to forfeit $619 million to the U.S. Justice Department for illegally moving billions of dollars through the U.S. financial system on behalf of sanctioned Cuban and Iranian entities.
The bank has been charged with conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and the Trading with the Enemy Act (TWEA) and for violating New York state laws.
A criminal information was filed today in federal court in the District of Columbia charging ING Bank N.V. with one count of knowingly and willfully conspiring to violate the IEEPA and TWEA.
ING Bank waived the federal indictment, agreed to the filing of the information, and has accepted responsibility for its criminal conduct and that of its employees.
ING Bank agreed to forfeit $619 million as part of the deferred prosecution agreements reached with the Justice Department and the New York County District Attorney’s Office.
According to court documents, starting in the early 1990s and continuing until 2007, ING Bank violated U.S. and New York state laws by moving more than $2 billion illegally through the U.S. financial system — via more than 20,000 transactions — on behalf of Cuban and Iranian entities subject to U.S. economic sanctions.
ING Bank knowingly and willfully engaged in this criminal conduct, which caused unaffiliated U.S. financial institutions to process transactions that otherwise should have been rejected, blocked, or stopped for investigation under regulations by OFAC relating to transactions involving sanctioned countries and parties.
The fine is the largest ever against a bank in connection with an investigation into U.S. sanctions violations and related offenses and underscores the national security implications of ING Bank’s criminal conduct, officials said.
According to court documents, ING Bank committed its criminal conduct by, among other things, processing payments for ING Bank’s Cuban banking operations through its branch in Curaçao on behalf of Cuban customers without reference to the payments’ origin and by providing U.S. dollar trade finance services to sanctioned entities through misleading payment messages, shell companies, and the misuse of ING Bank’s internal suspense account.
ING Bank also eliminated payment data that would have revealed the involvement of sanctioned countries and entities, including Cuba and Iran; advised sanctioned clients on how to conceal their involvement in U.S. dollar transactions; fabricated ING Bank endorsement stamps for two Cuban banks to fraudulently process U.S. dollar travelers’ cheques; and threatened to punish certain employees if they failed to take specified steps to remove references to sanctioned entities in payment messages.
According to court documents, this conduct occurred in various business units in ING Bank’s wholesale banking division and in locations around the world with the knowledge, approval, and encouragement of senior corporate managers and legal and compliance departments. Over the years, several ING Bank employees raised concerns to management about the bank’s sanctions violations. However, no action was taken.
ING Bank’s forfeiture of $309.5 million to the United States and $309.5 million to the New York County District Attorney’s Office will settle forfeiture claims by the Department of Justice and the state of New York. In light of the bank’s remedial actions to date and its willingness to acknowledge responsibility for its actions, the Department will recommend the dismissal of the information in 18 months, provided ING Bank fully cooperates with, and abides by, the terms of the deferred prosecution agreement.