Australian Bank Pays $5.75M to Settle OFAC Alleged Violations

On August 24, 2009, the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the U.S. Department of the Treasury (OFAC) announced that Australia and New Zealand Bank Group, Ltd., of Melbourne, Australia (ANZ), remitted $5.75 million to settle allegations of violating both Sudanese Sanctions Regulations and Cuban Assets Control Regulations.  

OFAC alleged that from 2004 to 2006, ANZ processed international trade financing and foreign currency exchange transactions through U.S. correspondent accounts. In the process, ANZ concealed the identities of persons targeted by the U.S. sanctions by removing their names as well as references to Sudan, thus impeding the U.S. banks' ability to detect these violations. 

The settlement agreement covers 16 transactions totaling $28 million that allegedly violated the Sudanese Sanctions Regulations, and 15 sanctions totaling $78 million that allegedly violated the Cuban Assets Control Regulations. 

ANZ voluntarily disclosed violating the Cuban Assets Control Regulations but not the apparent Sudanese Sanctions Regulations violations. However, while conducting a review of the transactions, the company discovered additional violations of the Sudanese Sanctions of which OFAC was not aware. 

OFAC stated that ANZ's prompt and substantial cooperation involving extensive review of transactions, as well as the fact the company had not been subject to an OFAC enforcement action in the five years preceding the transactions served as mitigating factors in determining the penalty amount. As part of the settlement agreement, ANZ also agreed to re-design its current operations and policies to implement procedures that establish more effective controls on potential OFAC violations.