September 27, 2014 / 12:29 AM / 5 years ago

Commerzbank to be investigated over money laundering charges: WSJ

The headquarters of the Commerzbank AG is pictured before the bank's annual news conference in Frankfurt February 13, 2014. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski

(Reuters) - Germany’s second-largest lender Commerzbank AG is being investigated by the Manhattan U.S. attorney for alleged violations of money-laundering laws, the Wall Street Journal reported.

After failing to land high-profile criminal cases stemming from the 2008-09 financial crisis, U.S. authorities have focused on other types of criminal activity within the financial industry, including money laundering, tax evasion and sanctions violations.

Sources told Reuters earlier this month that Commerzbank was nearing a settlement with U.S. authorities over its dealings with Iran and other countries under U.S. sanctions. One person said it was expected to pay about $650 million.

The Manhattan U.S. attorney is now investigating allegations Commerzbank had lax controls for detecting and preventing money laundering, the WSJ reported, citing unnamed sources briefed on the investigation.

It said U.S. officials were now considering whether to resolve the sanctions probe and the money laundering investigation in one settlement, which could delay a solution and add hundreds of millions of dollars to the potential penalties Commerzbank could pay.

Commerzbank declined comment.

A number of banks have already been penalized over sanctions and money laundering infringements. French bank BNP Paribas pleaded guilty earlier this year to two criminal charges and agreed to pay almost $9 billion to resolve accusations it violated U.S. sanctions against Sudan, Cuba and Iran.

Reporting by Krishna Chaithanya in Bangalore; Additional reporting by Jonathan Gould in Frankfurt; Editing by Maria Sheahan and David Holmes

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