Chinese Bank Sanctioned by Fed Over Money-Laundering Safeguards

  • Agricultural Bank agrees to boost Bank Secrecy Act protections
  • Lender sued earlier this year by whistle-blower in New York

Agricultural Bank of China Ltd. has been ordered by the Federal Reserve to overhaul its protections against money laundering to address “significant deficiencies,” the U.S. regulator said in a statement Thursday.

The lender, one of China’s biggest banks, will have to come up with a written plan within 60 days to fix the shortcomings in managing risk in its New York branch and get better control over suspicious activity, the Fed said. The order didn’t carry a monetary penalty.

Earlier this year, the Beijing-based lender was sued by a former chief compliance officer who said she was forced out of her job after telling the New York Fed about money-laundering risks in trade-financing transactions. Natasha Taft, who ran the firm’s compliance in New York, alleged the bank retaliated against her for the disclosures in late 2014.

In 2011, a senior executive of the bank -- one of the global lenders deemed systemically important by the Financial Stability Board -- issued a notice saying Agricultural Bank “strictly complies” with anti-money-laundering laws in China and the countries it operates in. Last year, a vice president of the bank, Yang Kun, was jailed for life for taking bribes.

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