Federal and state authorities are investigating several major American banks for possibly enabling drug dealers and terrorists launder tainted money, NBC News is reporting. The banks allegedly failed to monitor cash transactions in and out of their branches. The federal and state officials are starting one of the most aggressive crackdowns on money-laundering in decades. The investigation is intended to send a signal to the country’s biggest banks that weak compliance is unacceptable.
Action is close to being taken against JPMorgan Chase by regulators, led by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, for insufficient safeguards. The bank is accused of transferring money in violation of the United States sanctions against Cuba and Iran. The agency is also investigating Bank of America.
The increase in investigations is a result of the problems stemming from the 2008 financial crisis. The Justice Department and the Manhattan district attorney’s office are focusing on money-laundering. International criminals are trying to hide illicit funds in American bank accounts.
Banks do spend millions of dollars a year to guard against money-laundering. Compliance experts argue that violations are typically unintentional and harmless, as they’re not often exploited by criminals. JPMorgan and Bank of America have declined to comment on the investigation.
Written by: Karen Benardello