Feds look for links between Rabobank and drug cartels
February 4, 2015
By KAREN VELIE
Federal law enforcement agencies are investigating Rabobank over questions about whether the bank overlooked signs of money laundering by customers with connections to Mexican drug cartels.
For more than a year, investigators have interviewed current and former employees of Rabobank in San Luis Obispo County where statewide compliance checks occurred, an employee who asked not to be identified said.
The Bank Secrecy Act of 1970 requires banks in the United States to work with the government to detect and prevent money laundering.
But, bank officials instructed employees to ignore signs of money laundering and repatriation of cash, the employee said.
For example, in one case, a bank employee discovered a customer who was depositing large amounts of cash into a small branch located in the Imperial Valley, not far from the U.S.-Mexico border. The money was then wired to suspected cartel affiliates in Mexico.
Rabobank is already under a type of probation after an investigation by the Justice Department resulted in a $475 million penalty in 2013 for manipulation and false reporting charges. A global investigation led to criminal charges against six of the bank’s former traders.
With more than $900 billion in assets, Rabobank is a global financial services provider headquartered in the Netherlands. In 2002, Rabobank acquired several banks in California. Rabobank N.A. now has more than 120 locations throughout California.
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