April 28, 2008 / 3:48 PM / 11 years ago

UPDATE 2-US fines Nigeria's United Bank for Africa $15 mln

(Adds company comment)

WASHINGTON, April 28 (Reuters) - Nigeria’s United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA.LG) has been fined $15 million for failing to comply with anti-money-laundering rules, U.S. authorities said on Monday.

The civil penalty was levied against the bank’s New York branch because it violated a cease-and-desist order issued in January 2007 over problems with administering Bank Secrecy Act provisions.

An examination of the bank’s programs was conducted by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency in November. Bank Secrecy Act compliance is overseen by bank regulators and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). The OCC and FinCEN are units of the Treasury Department.

With assets of about $441 million, United Bank for Africa is the largest bank in Nigeria, with more than 630 offices there, as well as in Ghana, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Cayman Islands and London, according to FinCEN’s enforcement document.

U.S. regulators said the civil penalty stemmed from about $197 million in suspicious transactions the bank failed to identify and report.

“We now have a BSA/AML program that we continually strengthen and assess in line with both market and regulatory developments,” a bank official said.

“The management and board of UBA are fully committed to continually meet UBA’s obligations under the Bank Secrecy Act,” the official said. (Reporting by John Poirier, editing by Mark Porter and Gerald E. McCormick)

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