Compliance Officer Assessed $1 Million Civil Penalty for Failing to Respond to Consumer Complaints

Last month, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”) issued a $1 million civil money penalty against Thomas Haider, the former Chief Compliance Officer for MoneyGram International (“MoneyGram”).  FinCEN is a bureau of the U.S. Department of the Treasury that regulates financial crimes.  This penalty is notable because it assessed individual liability and was issued in conjunction with the filing of a federal lawsuit that seeks to enforce the penalty and enjoin Haider from employment in the financial industry.

The complaint alleges that Haider was personally responsible for MoneyGram’s failure to meet its legal obligations under the Bank Secrecy Act (“BSA”): specifically, to implement and maintain an effective anti-money laundering (“AML”) compliance program and to timely file Suspicious Activity Reports (“SARs”).  Haider was responsible for monitoring MoneyGram’s worldwide network of agents, and he allegedly failed to take action against agents who were participating in illicit activities.  Haider allegedly failed to conduct effective audits of high-risk agents and failed to implement policies for disciplining high-risk agents using MoneyGram’s transmission network.

This case follows a trend among FinCEN and other regulators to emphasize individual accountability within the organizational structure of financial institutions.  Organizations should review FinCEN’s publication from last year regarding a culture of compliance.  Institutions should consider compliance assessments conducted by legal counsel.  Should you have any questions, please contact Spilman.

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by R. Scott Adams

R. Scott Adams

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