ING Breaks Sanctions, Faces Record Fine


ING bank is facing millions of dollars in penalties for doing business with sanctioned nations, including Iran and Cuba, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The financial institution must now pay a record $619 million in fines for funneling money on behalf of Cuban and Iranian clients, the outlet reports.

The bank employed crooked methods to avoid detection, and threatened to fire employees who didn’t cooperate, according to the Journal:

The bank, a unit of ING Groep NV,ING -1.01% one of the Netherlands largest banks, used a system to “strip,” or delete, references to Cuba and Iran and, through more than 20,000 separate transactions, successfully moved more than $2 billion through the U.S. financial system. It is the fourth major bank to settle with New York and U.S. authorities in recent years over such activities.

In 2009, Switzerland’s Credit Suisse Group AG CSGN.VX -0.74% agreed to pay $536 million and the U.K.’s Lloyds Banking Group PLC agreed to pay $350 million to settle similar allegations with New York and U.S. authorities. The U.K.’s Barclays PLC settled allegations in 2010, agreeing to pay $298 million. ING’s fine is the largest ever for these types of violations.

ING profited by courting business from sanctioned entities like Iran and Cuba, according to court documents filed on Tuesday. Its clients in Cuba included a range of people, from individuals who wanted to cash U.S. travelers checks to government ministries. It also engaged in transactions with Iran’s central bank and state-owned National Iranian Oil Co.