Western Union Fined $60 Million for AML Failures

Over the span of a decade Western Union failed to accommodate compliance and anti-money laundering (AML) regulations leading to a fine of $60 million by the New York Department of Financial Services (DFS).  This settlement follows an agreement that the Western Union had made back in January 2017 with the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission to pay $586 million in order to resolve similar claims.

Between 2004 and 2012, Western Union neglected to create a more efficient AML program in order to detect and prevent suspicious transactions that could be related to criminal activity within their electronic network.  The DFS also claims that executives and managers of this money-transfer company ignored suspicious transactions to Chinese Western Union locations by several high-volume agents, including money transfers linked to human trafficking.  Maria Vullo, the DFS Superintendent, said in a statement that Western Union’s executives “put profits ahead of the company’s responsibilities to detect and prevent money laundering and fraud.”

As another condition of the settlement with the DFS, Western Union must submit a document defining how the company will ensure proper compliance going forward and will also have to submit progress reports on a regular basis to the DFS.  The company claims that they will put $49 million into the effort to make considerable changes and improvements to their anti-money laundering and anti-fraud programs, and has also agreed to pay $5 million to various state attorney generals to reimburse investigative, enforcement and other costs in connection with related investigations.

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