Bank of China to pay $ 4.2 million to settle money laundering case
Bank of China agreed to pay 3.9 million euros ($ 4.2 million) to settle a French investigation into allegations it turned a blind eye as customers transferred millions to their Asian accounts without paying European taxes.
Paris prosecutor Rémi Heitz said the bank would pay a fine of 3 million euros and 900,000 euros in damages to the French tax authorities to end the criminal proceedings. The case will continue against 28 business owners and intermediaries involved in transferring funds to China, Heitz said.
The Beijing-based bank had been charged with aggravated money laundering for transferring suspicious funds worth nearly 40 million euros to 168 Bank of China accounts, mainly in southern Zhejiang province of Shanghai, between 2012 and 2014.
Although the fine is modest, the deal with the Bank of China is the first negotiated by prosecutors in Paris. The National Financial Prosecutor’s Office had snatched fines between a quarter and half a billion euros each from the search engine giant and the two banks.
The lender admitted the underlying facts as well as the corresponding legal qualification used by the investigators but did not plead guilty.
As part of the case, French authorities accused the Beijing-based bank of sitting idly by – without asking for any proof of income – because account holders with no particular business activity in China were receiving money from companies. commercial.
The funds first passed through companies in France and other European countries like Spain, Lithuania and Poland before landing in Bank of China accounts in Asia. French investigators suspected the funds initially came from undeclared sales of Chinese companies based north of Paris.
The probe started after a routine check following a red flag. The criminal authorities opened investigations in 2013 after the French anti-money laundering organization, Tracfin, observed a very unusual increase in a few months in the turnover of a Parisian store specializing in urgent repairs. locksmith and plumbing.