International Netherlands Group (ING), a Dutch bank, has agreed to a $619-million settlement in a case brought against it by the United States that accused the bank of bypassing U.S. economic sanctions on Cuba and Iran.
ING Bank has admitted that it facilitated more than $2 billion in Cuban and Iranian financial transactions through the U.S. banking system despite a ban on such transactions in the United States, U.S. media report.
Under the Trading with the Enemy Act, the U.S. prosecutor accused ING of violating sanctions. ING’s dealings with Iran and Iranian companies were also argued to be in breach of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.
No charges have been laid against any ING executives or employees, although it was established that awareness of the violations was widespread at various levels of the bank. As part of the settlement deal, the bank has agreed to cooperate with any further investigations.
The Assistant Attorney General of U.S. National Security announced that the $619-million forfeiture, half of which will be paid to the Justice Department and the other half to the New York County District Attorney’s Office, “is the largest ever against a bank in connection with an investigation into U.S. sanctions violations.”
She added: “For more than a decade, ING Bank helped provide state sponsors of terror and other sanctioned entities with access to the U.S. financial system, allowing them to move billions of dollars through U.S. banks.”
ING is the fourth-largest bank to have been accused of violating U.S. sanctions and forced to pay a fine. Credit Suisse group AG was accused of similar charges in 2009 and was forced to pay $536 million in fines.
The two British banks, Lloyds and Barclays, were also fined for violating U.S. sanctions in 2009 and 2010, respectively paying $350 million and $298 million in fines.