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Western Union settles New York money laundering probe for $60 million

People walk past a Western Union branch at Times Square in New York November 30, 2011. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

(Reuters) - Western Union Co WU.N will pay $60 million to resolve allegations that it failed for more than a decade to maintain a program to deter and report transactions involving suspected criminal fraud and money laundering, New York’s financial regulator said on Thursday.

The settlement with the New York Department of Financial Services (DFS) follows the money-transfer company’s agreement in January 2017 to pay $586 million to resolve similar claims by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission.

DFS alleged that from 2004 to 2012, Western Union failed to implement and maintain an effective anti-money laundering program aimed to deter criminals’ use of its electronic network to facilitate fraud and money laundering.

The regulator said senior Western Union executives and managers also ignored suspicious transactions to Chinese Western Union locations by several high-volume agents, including money transfers linked to human trafficking.

DFS Superintendent Maria Vullo said in a statement Western Union’s executive “put profits ahead of the company’s responsibilities to detect and prevent money laundering and fraud.”

As part of the settlement, Western Union must submit a written plan to DFS aimed at ensuring the adequacy of its anti-money laundering and anti-fraud programs. It must also submit progress reports to DFS.

Western Union said in a statement it had previously set aside $49 million to resolve the investigation. It also said that it had made substantial improvements aimed at enhancing its compliance programs.

As part of a deferred prosecution agreement with the Justice Department announced in January 2017, Western Union admitted it violated U.S. laws.

The company also agreed in January 2017 to pay $5 million to various state attorneys general to reimburse investigative, enforcement and other costs in connection with related investigations.

Reporting by Nate Raymond in Boston; Editing by Susan Thomas