Treasury Department Fines JPMorgan Chase $88.3 Million

The bank violated trade laws three times over the last six years

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JPMorgan has settled with the U.S. Treasury Department on an $88.3 million payout for breaking U.S. embargo laws and trade sanctions in three incidents between 2005 and 2011, The New York Times' Dealbook reports. The bank made a series of transactions with Cuba, Iran and Sudan over that time. The list of infractions are as follows, and total to an estimated $181.4 million in violations:

  • In late 2005 early 2006, JPMorgan violated embargo laws by processing $178.5 million in wire transfers for cuban nationals. A different, unnamed financial institution tipped the bank off to their own misdeeds, but they failed to alert the proper authorities, and didn't make enough of an effort to ensure it wouldn't happen again. 
  • In 2009 the bank processed a $2.9 million loan with, "a bank that had ties to Iran’s government-owned shipping line," a violation of trade sanctions agains the country. JPMorgan was made aware of the mistake, but again failed to inform regulators in due time. They didn't inform regulators of their mistake until three days before the loan was paid in full. 
  • In 2011, the Treasury asked for documents regarding a wire transfer that referred to Khartoum, the capital of Sudan. JPMorgan said they didn't know what they were talking about. The Treasury presented JPMorgan with a list of documents they believed were in the bank's possession, and, after denying it the first time, the bank coughed up the documents shortly after. 

Jennifer Zuccarelli, a JPMorgan spokeswoman, commented on the charges:

The civil settlement resolves a number of OFAC allegations dating back to 2005, none of which involved any intent to violate OFAC regulations. These rare incidents were unrelated and isolated from each other. We are pleased to have resolved these matters and to move forward with enhancements to our global OFAC compliance program.

Officials from the Treasury Department said that, "managers and supervisors acted with knowledge of the conduct constituting the apparent violations and recklessly failed to exercise a minimal degree of caution or care." The fine was also reduced because JPMorgan had "cooperated substantially" with the investigation.

Update: A spokesman from the Treasury Department also forwarded this quote from OFAC director Adam Szubin:

All U.S. financial institutions need to take sanctions compliance seriously; all the more so for the largest and most sophisticated that have broad international exposure.  The conduct reflected in this settlement -- especially the activity that we determined to be egregious -- reflects serious deficiencies in J.P. Morgan Chase’s compliance program.  We are encouraged by the steps the bank has taken to improve its sanctions compliance efforts.

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