January 28, 2014 / 6:22 PM / in 4 years

Mexico's Banorte fined in U.S. for lax money laundering controls

MEXICO CITY, Jan 28 (Reuters) - Wall Street’s industry-funded watchdog FINRA on Tuesday fined Mexican bank Grupo Financiero Banorte $475,000 for inadequate money-laundering controls and for failing to register certain foreign workers who were bringing foreign money to the U.S. unit.

A U.S. unit of Banorte, Mexico’s No. 4 bank by assets, opened an account for a customer with reported ties to a drug cartel and did not “detect, investigate or report the suspicious rapid movement of $28 million in and out of the account,” the FINRA statement said.

FINRA said it suspended Brian Anthony Simmons, the former anti-money laundering and chief compliance officer of the bank’s U.S. unit, Banorte-Ixe Securities International.

The fine also reflected the bank’s failure to register about 200 to 400 so-called “foreign finders” who get paid for bringing non-U.S. business to the bank.

In a separate statement, Banorte said it recognizes that any inadequacy is unacceptable. The bank “has improved its systems to correct the points outlined by the regulator,” it said.

Regulators worldwide are cracking down on money laundering controls just over a year since HSBC paid a hefty $1.92 billion to settle U.S. charges that it allowed Mexican and Colombian cartels to launder drugs proceeds.

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