U.S. Drops Money-Launderer Designation on BPA After Andorra Move

  • Bank collpased in March on Treasury money-laundering citation
  • FinCEN cites steps by Andorran authorities to limit risks

The U.S. Treasury withdrew its finding that Banca Privada d’Andorra was a primary money-laundering concern after authorities in that country took over the institution, arrested its chief executive officer and set up a plan to move some assets to a new bank.

“FinCEN believes that the steps taken by the Andorran authorities sufficiently protect the U.S. financial system from the money-laundering risks previously associated with BPA,” the agency said in a statement today on its website. “Accordingly, FinCEN has determined that BPA is no longer a primary money-laundering concern.”

Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network named Banca Privada d’Andorra, then the country’s fourth-largest bank, as a money laundering concern last March. That led to the bank’s collapse and seizure, and a run on customer funds at the lender’s Spanish unit.

It also drew a lawsuit in the U.S. by the bank’s former majority owners, Ramon and Higini Cierco, who claimed that FinCEN’s determination was based on incomplete and inaccurate evidence.

FinCEN was wrong to name BPA as a primary money-laundering concern in the beginning and didn’t take into account the bank’s legitimate business, said Eric Lewis, of Lewis Baach Pllc, who represents the Ciercos.

“They want their bank back and will continue to fight until there’s real accountability from all parties,” Lewis said.  

Stephen Hudak, a FinCEN spokesman, declined to comment beyond the statement.

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