RBS to pay $100 million in U.S. sanctions probe

Wed Dec 11, 2013 3:01pm EST
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By Aruna Viswanatha and Anna Yukhananov

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc (RBS.L: Quote) will pay $100 million to resolve U.S. probes into the bank's dealings with Sudan, Iran, and other sanctioned countries, U.S. authorities said on Wednesday.

Between 2005 and 2009, the bank processed around $34 million in wire transfers that violated sanctions against Sudan, Iran, Cuba and Myanmar, the Treasury Department said, adding that $32 million of that amount came from Sudan.

The bank also instructed its employees to remove references to the sanctioned locations from payment messages to U.S. financial institutions so that they would be processed, authorities said.

Regulators described one written policy at RBS, for example, which instructed employees that any dollar-denominated payment could not include: "1. The sanctioned country name. 2. Any name designated on the Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) restricted list."

Members of the bank's management knew of the conduct, and some, including its head of global banking for Asia, Middle East and Africa, were fired in connection with the probe, authorities said.

In a statement, the bank said it "acknowledges and deeply regrets these failings." The bank also said it had initiated the investigation, shared information with authorities, and has committed almost 300 million pounds ($490 million) since 2010 to improve its sanctions controls.

Criminal authorities at the U.S. Justice Department and the District Attorney of New York have closed their related investigations and will not bring charges, RBS said.

"This action demonstrates our continuing efforts to aggressively enforce U.S. sanctions laws against Iran and other sanctioned parties," Adam Szubin, who runs the Treasury Department's OFAC unit, said in a statement.   Continued...

A woman stands in front of a Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) cash machine, in central London December 3, 2013. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor