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20 Jul, 2023 16:01

US hits Germany’s biggest bank with $186 million fine

The penalty follows Deutsche Bank’s failure to address its money laundering control issues
US hits Germany’s biggest bank with $186 million fine

The US Federal Reserve said on Wednesday it has fined Germany’s Deutsche Bank and its US affiliates $186 million for failing to properly address money laundering control problems, previously flagged by the US regulator.

The Fed previously fined the bank in 2015 and 2017 for the same issues, arising from insufficient controls in Deutsche's relationship with the Estonian branch of Danske Bank.

“Deutsche Bank made insufficient remedial progress” in complying with those orders, which it had consented to, the Fed said in its latest statement, while issuing a new order requiring Deutsche “to prioritize completion” of the controls it was supposed to put in place under the earlier orders.

Bank regulators found that in its dealings with Danske Bank, Deutsche did not properly monitor transactions involving high-risk customers. According to the Fed, a “significant portion” of the $276 billion in transactions that Deutsche cleared for Danske involved “high-risk non-resident customers.” Shortcomings in Deutsche's policies on money laundering persisted after its relationship with Danske ended in 2015, the Fed insisted.

Last year, Danske, the largest bank in Denmark, pleaded guilty to charges resulting from a long-running money-laundering investigation, and agreed to pay a $2 billion penalty.

Deutsche said on Wednesday it was committed to addressing the shortcomings identified by the Fed in the “near future,” adding that the fine was largely covered by provisions taken in prior quarters.

“We believe we are well positioned to meet our regulators' expectations,” the German lender said.

According to its statement, the bank has “significantly invested in controls” since 2019 and increased the size of its global anti-financial crime team by more than 25%, to over 2,000 employees.

In recent years, Germany’s largest bank has been under pressure from regulators over compliance failings. In 2021, Deutsche agreed to pay $125 million to avoid prosecution on charges that it manipulated precious metals markets and engaged in foreign bribery schemes.

In November, Germany’s financial watchdog BaFin has also urged the scandal-hit Deutsche to improve money laundering controls.

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