International Financial Law Prof Blog

Editor: William Byrnes
Texas A&M University
School of Law

Friday, July 25, 2014

BOA settles alleged narco kingpin violations for $16 million

FINCENBank of America, N.A. (Bank of America) has agreed to remit $16,562,700 to settle potential civil liability for 213 apparent violations of the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Sanctions Regulations (FNKSR), 31 C.F.R. part 598; the Narcotics Trafficking Sanctions Regulations (NTSR), 31 C.F.R. part 536; and the Reporting, Procedures and Penalties Regulations (RPPR), 31 C.F.R. part 501.

OFAC has determined that the 79 transactions Bank of America processed on or after October 6, 2006, constitute an egregious case.  The total base penalty amount for all of the apparent violations was $83,650,000.

In reaching its determination that the apparent violations that occurred on or after October 6, 2006, were egregious, OFAC considered the following:

  • Bank of America demonstrated reckless disregard for U.S. sanctions requirements by failing for more than two years to adequately address a known deficiency in its OFAC screening tool that prevented the bank from identifying potential matches to individuals with multiple or multi-part last names on the SDN List;
  • as early as October 2006, at least one official in Bank of America’s office responsible for OFAC compliance was aware of the deficiency, but the bank did not resolve the deficiency until February 2009;
  • the potential harm to the U.S. sanctions program objectives was significant, given the number of transactions, the benefit conferred to the SDNTs, and the length of time over which the apparent violations occurred;
  • Bank of America is a highly sophisticated U.S. financial institution; Bank of America failed to take adequate remedial action for more than two years after first identifying the deficiency in one of the bank’s screening tools;
  • Bank of America processed additional apparent violations after it reported taking remedial actions to OFAC in 2006 and 2008;
  • and Bank of America’s sanctions history during the five years preceding the dates of the apparent violations includes a settlement involving the operation of an account on behalf of an SDNT.

Bank of America's alleged OFAC and Narcotic Trafficker vioations:

  • Between September 10, 2005 and March 31, 2009, Bank of America processed 208 transactions totaling approximately $91,192 on behalf of, and failed to properly block five accounts owned by, 10 individuals whom OFAC had previously added to its List of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN List).
  • Between September 10, 2005 and March 31, 2009, Bank of America processed 116 transactions totaling approximately $28,596, for three Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers (SDNTs) in apparent violation of the FNKSR.
  • Between September 11, 2005 and August 17, 2007, Bank of America processed 92 transactions totaling approximately $62,596, involving three SDNTs in apparent violation of the NTSR. 
  • Between October 31, 2006 and March 3, 2009, Bank of America failed to file timely blocked property reports regarding five accounts owned by four SDNTs, in apparent violation of the FNKSR, NTSR, and RPPR. 

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has determined that although Bank of America identified most of the apparent violations, the disclosures are not voluntary self-disclosures within the scope of OFAC’s definition under the Economic Sanctions Enforcement Guidelines, 31 C.F.R. part 501, app. A, because they were substantially similar to other apparent violations of which OFAC was already aware.


See Bank of America, N.A. Settles Potential Civil Liability for Apparent Violations of Multiple Sanctions Programs

Settlement Agreement between the U.S. Department ofthe Treasury's Office ofForeign Assets Control and Bank of America

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