Photo: ING Bank and Cuba
ING Bank N.V., a financial institution headquartered in Amsterdam, has agreed to forfeit $619 million to the Justice Department for conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) and the Trading with the Enemy Act (TWEA) and for violating New York state laws by illegally moving billions of dollars through the U.S. financial system on behalf of sanctioned Cuban and Iranian entities.
According to court documents, starting in the early 1990s and continuing until 2007, ING Bank violated U.S. and New York state laws by moving more than $2 billion illegally through the U.S. financial system – via more than 20,000 transactions – on behalf of Cuban and Iranian entities subject to U.S. economic sanctions. ING Bank knowingly and willfully engaged in this criminal conduct, which caused unaffiliated U.S. financial institutions to process transactions that otherwise should have been rejected, blocked or stopped for investigation under regulations by OFAC relating to transactions involving sanctioned countries and parties.
According to court documents, ING Bank committed its criminal conduct by, among other things, processing payments for ING Bank’s Cuban banking operations through its branch in Curaçao on behalf of Cuban customers without reference to the payments’ origin, and by providing U.S. dollar trade finance services to sanctioned entities through misleading payment messages, shell companies and the misuse of ING Bank’s internal suspense account.
Furthermore, ING Bank eliminated payment data that would have revealed the involvement of sanctioned countries and entities, including Cuba and Iran; advised sanctioned clients on how to conceal their involvement in U.S. dollar transactions; fabricated ING Bank endorsement stamps for two Cuban banks to fraudulently process U.S. dollar travelers’ checks; and threatened to punish certain employees if they failed to take specified steps to remove references to sanctioned entities in payment messages.