Miami-based Ocean Bank faces a nearly $11 million fine to settle charges it turned a blind eye to drug traffickers allegedly using the bank to launder money.
The settlement — which prosecutors, investigators and numerous regulators announced concurrently — was a stunning indictment of the $3.6 billion-asset bank's anti-money laundering efforts.
Authorities said despite the risk of the bank being used by launderers, it failed to institute adequate controls required by the Bank Secrecy Act. Specifically, authorities cited five accounts they said had ties to drug organizations, including three allegedly holding currency and wire transfers from Mexican "casas de cambio" controlled by the Bernal-Palacios trafficking organization. Officials said Ocean ignored certain "red flags" in the five accounts, including unusually large deposits of as much as $140,000 and deposits consisting of thousands of money orders and travelers checks, among other warning signs.
The fine, totaling more than $10.9 million, represents illegal narcotics proceeds that officials say were laundered through the five accounts.