March 12, 2015 / 4:11 PM / 5 years ago

Commerzbank to pay $1.45 billion to resolve probes on Iran, Olympus

A man walks past a branch of Commerzbank ahead of the bank's annual news conference in Frankfurt February 12, 2015. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Commerzbank AG (CBKG.DE) has agreed to pay U.S. authorities $1.45 billion to resolve an investigation of its dealings with Iran and other sanctioned countries as well as a separate probe of its money laundering controls, the U.S. authorities said on Thursday.

U.S. authorities accused German’s second largest lender of knowingly moving money through the U.S. financial system on behalf of black-listed entities from at least 2002 and 2008, partly by stripping identifying information from incoming wires that would have helped flag the transactions.

Prosecutors also found the Frankfurt-based bank did not comply with U.S. laws that require detecting and reporting suspicious transactions in a probe stemming from an accounting scandal at Japan’s Olympus Corp (7733.T).

U.S. and New York prosecutors both agreed to defer criminal charges against the bank for three years, providing the lender abides by the terms of its agreements.

No individuals were charged, but New York’s banking regulator, the state Department of Financial Services, said five executives would be fired or resign as a result of the probes, including the former head of compliance for the bank’s New York branch.

“Financial institutions must heed this message: banks that operate in the United States must comply with our laws, and banks that ignore the warnings of those charged with compliance will pay a very steep price,” U.S. Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell said in a statement.

Commerzbank did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The bank disclosed on Feb. 12 that it had set aside 1.4 billion euros ($1.48 billion) for legal costs, related in part to the U.S. probes.

Reporting by Lindsay Dunsmuir; Editing by Emily Stephenson and Christian Plumb

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