This past Tuesday, the federal appeals court ruled against owners of the now inoperative Banca Privada d’Andorra S.A. who wanted to reverse the claim that the organization was a “primary money laundering concern” by the U.S. Treasury Department.
Ramon and Higini Cierco, former owners of the Andorran bank known as BPA, called a three-judge panel to rule the Treasury’s action as illegal but were rejected in support of the Treasury Department’s authority to issue orders against banks based on collected evidence.
This case proves just how much power U.S. financial regulators have and can use against institutions accused of money laundering.
Two years ago in 2015, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crime Enforcement Network (FinCEN) indicated that BPA was helping crime organizations from Venezuela to China launder billions of dollars in funds. Andorran authorities made the order to seize and liquidate BPA’s assets causing it to close business as a result. Once BPA was inactive, FinCEN withdrew its order and declared that it was no longer a threat.
In an effort to clear the Cierco family name, Eric Lewis, the Ciercos’ attorney, sued FinCEN to reverse its order based on the fact that it relied on “flimsy” evidence to prove the money laundering charges. However, Lewis’ case was dismissed by the U.S. district court because FinCEN had already withdrawn its order when BPA closed its doors.
Mr. Cierco illustrates his distrust in the U.S. government and BPA, attempting to take down small banks with no risk of security without any warning or due process of law, while larger banks are untouched.
The Ciercos again filed a lawsuit against FinCEN last week in Washington federal court in order to force FinCEN to release the records of correspondence with Andorra. Lewis believes this will prove that Andorran authorities were coerced by the U.S. into seizing BPA’s accounts.
Higini Cierco believes suing FinCEN will ensure that organizations such as Andorra will not be expropriated by the actions of the government, creating a sense of accountability and transparency.
For the full story, view: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-moneylaundering-andorra-idUSKBN18J2W6?il=0