Pasadena’s East West Bank has agreed to an enforcement action with regulators to strengthen its compliance with anti-money laundering requirements, the Federal Reserve announced Thursday.
The agreement comes after recent examinations conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and the California Department of Business Oversight identified deficiencies in East West’s compliance with certain anti-money laundering laws, including the Bank Secrecy Act.
According to legal documents, the bank will now need to submit a plan which includes the establishment of a compliance committee, measures to improve reporting information, and an assessment of the bank’s staff within 60 days.
In addition, the bank has agreed to submitting plans detailing account controls for financial institutions abroad, policies ensuring the collection of customer information, and a monitoring system which ensures timely reporting by the bank of suspicious transactions.
“We will continue improving our system within the time frame that we both agree on,” Emily Wang, an East West spokeswoman, told the Business Journal.
The Bank Secrecy Act of 1970 and subsequent laws require banks to assist the federal government in preventing money laundering, while the Patriot Act of 2001 significantly expanded financial transparency laws.
In the past few years, banks including New York’s JP Morgan Chase Inc. and Boston’s State Street Corp. have been ordered by regulators to strengthen their anti-money laundering programs. Century City’s Banamex USA, a subsidiary of New York finance giant Citigroup Inc., agreed to shut down in July after paying a $140 million settlement to state and federal regulators over repeated failures to implement an adequate anti-money laundering plan.
Wang said East West’s situation is different.
“Some banks in the end were fined with a penalty. That’s not the case with East West. We don’t have one customer or one business that was asked to leave the bank,” Wang said. “We’re confident that we’ll be able to get our system upgraded and meet the written agreement.”
A spokesperson for the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco could not be immediately reached for comment.
East West maintains a branch in Hong Kong and has various foreign subsidiaries, including offices and an international banking subsidiary in Shanghai. It has about $30 billion in assets, making it L.A.’s largest bank, after the sale of City National Bank.
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