Ex-ABN AMRO bank penalized for US money-laundering

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Former ABN AMRO bank is paying 500 million dollars to the United States for carrying out a huge money-laundering scheme for banks and clients in blacklisted countries, US officials said Monday.

"Over the course of a decade, ABN AMRO assisted sanctioned countries and entities in evading US laws by facilitating hundreds of millions of US dollar transactions," said US Attorney Ronald Machen.

The Department of Justice said the bank, which was taken over by Royal Bank of Scotland in 2007, had helped banks and customers from several blacklisted countries -- including Cuba, Iran, Libya, and Sudan -- to carry out transactions.

According to court documents, more than 3.2 billion dollars involving shell companies and high risk transactions with foreign financial institutions flowed through ABN AMRO's New York branch.

"ABN AMRO facilitated the movement of illegal money through the US financial system by stripping information from transactions and turning a blind eye to its compliance obligations," said Assistant Attorney General Breuer.

"It is essential that financial institutions both large and small properly monitor the origins of funds flowing into our financial system.

"When financial institutions fail to do so, and, even worse, manipulate information in order to profit from prohibited transactions, they will be held accountable."

© 2010 AFP

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