U.S. Treasury Department Announces $619 Million Settlement with ING Bank, N.V.
Largest-Ever Settlement Reached in a Sanctions Case
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) today announced a $619 million settlement with ING Bank N.V. (ING Bank) to settle potential liability for apparent violations of U.S. sanctions. Today’s settlement is the largest OFAC settlement of any kind to date. The settlement resolves OFAC’s investigation into ING Bank’s intentional manipulation and deletion of information about U.S.-sanctioned parties in more than 20,000 financial and trade transactions routed through third-party banks located in the United States between 2002 and 2007, primarily in apparent violation of the Cuban Assets Control Regulations (CACR), 31 C.F.R. part 515, but also of the Iranian Transactions Regulations (ITR), 31 C.F.R. part 560; the Burmese Sanctions Regulations (BSR), 31 C.F.R. part 537; the Sudanese Sanctions Regulations (SSR), 31 C.F.R. part 538; and the now-repealed version of the Libyan Sanctions Regulations (LSR), 31 C.F.R. part 550, which was in effect until 2004.
ING Bank’s apparent violations, which totaled more than $1.6 billion routed through the United States despite U.S. sanctions, arose out of policies at multiple offices of ING Bank’s Wholesale Banking Division. Neither ING Bank’s insurance nor its banking operations in the United States were subjects of this investigation. Beginning in the 1990s, at the instruction of senior bank management, ING Bank employees in Curacao began omitting references to Cuba in payment messages sent to the United States in order to prevent U.S. financial institutions from identifying and interdicting prohibited transactions. The practice of removing and omitting such information was also used by other branches of ING Bank’s Wholesale Banking Division, including in France, Belgium, and the Netherlands, in processing U.S. dollar payments and trade finance transactions through the United States. In addition, ING Bank’s senior management in France authorized, advised in the creation of, and ultimately provided fraudulent endorsement stamps for use by Cuban financial institutions in processing travelers check transactions, which disguised the involvement of Cuban banks in these transactions when they were processed through the United States. Moreover, ING Bank’s Trade and Commodity Finance business at its Wholesale Banking branch in the Netherlands routed payments made on behalf of U.S.-sanctioned Cuban clients through other corporate clients to obscure the sanctioned clients’ identities and its Romanian branch omitted details from a letter of credit involving a U.S. financial institution in order to finance the exportation of U.S.-origin goods to Iran.
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