Thursday, June 15, 2006

Asleep at the Switch

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida issued a press release (here) discussing the guilty plea of Mayra Cuellar to nineteen counts of failing to file currency transaction reports (CTR) on behalf of Gulf Bank, where she was a vice president and the Bank Secrecy Act officer responsible for filing the reports for its three branches.  From 1998 until November 2001, Cuellar simply stopped filing CTRs, so that Gulf Bank had to pay a $700,000 for failing to file over 2,400 CTRs during that period.  It's not clear why Cuellar stopped filing the reports, which are required for all cash (and equivalent) transactions over $10,000, and there is no allegation that she did it to hide transactions for others, such as drug dealers.  Moreover, no one at Gulf Bank, which has since ceased operations and its branches acquired by another bank, seems to have noticed that its Bank Secrecy Act officer was completely adrift for that part of her job.  I wonder whether this is like an embezzlement case in which a corporate official acts largely unsupervised and can take advantage of that situation.  Whether Cuellar and the rest of the bank's management was asleep at the switch probably will never be known.  (ph)

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