Western Union has agreed to pay $585 million to federal authorities after admitting its policies and some of its agents were responsible for aiding wire fraud.
According to court documents, Western Union violated the Bank Secrecy Act, which requires U.S. financial institutions to collaborate with the U.S. government in cases of suspected money laundering and fraud.
The agreement comes after the closed investigation by the Justice Department, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.
The court case involves Western Union’s practices and policies from 2004 through 2012, in which the court has claimed Western Union violated federal anti-fraud statutes.
Western Union could have avoided the settlement if the company had taken more action in reporting money laundering when it occurred.
Regarding today’s settlement, the Department of Justice stated:
“Our investigation uncovered hundreds of millions of dollars being sent to China in structured transactions designed to avoid the reporting requirements of the Bank Secrecy Act, and much of the money was sent to China by illegal immigrants to pay their human smugglers,” said U.S. Attorney Decker. “In a case being prosecuted by my office, a Western Union agent has pleaded guilty to federal charges of structuring transactions – illegal conduct the company knew about for at least five years. Western Union documents indicate that its employees fought to keep this agent – as well as several other high-volume independent agents in New York City – working for Western Union because of the high volume of their activity. This action today will ensure that Western Union effectively controls its agents and prevents the use of its money transfer system for illegal purposes.”
Click here to read the full court document.