Western Union, the largest money service business in the world, agreed to a half-billion dollar settlement over charges they failed to protect customers from fraud and permitted their agents to illegally launder money for customers. Western Union will pay a $586 million fine after pleading guilty to charges of willfully failing to run an effective anti-money laundering program and aiding and abetting wire fraud with the U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices of the Middle and Eastern districts of Pennsylvania, Central District of California and Southern District of Florida.
“Western Union owes a responsibility to American consumers to guard against fraud, but instead the company looked the other way, and its system facilitated scammers and rip-offs,” FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez said in a press release.
Based on a complaint filed January 19th in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Western Union violated U.S. laws when they processed thousands of transactions for Western Union agents and others as part of multiple national and international fraud schemes.
In a related action, FinCEN announced it has issued a consent assessment of a civil money penalty of $184 million against Western Union Financial Services, Inc. (WUFSI). WUFSI consented to FinCEN’s determination that prior to 2012, WUFSI willfully violated the Bank Secrecy Act’s anti-money laundering (AML) requirements by failing to implement and maintain an effective, risk-based AML program and by failing to file timely suspicious activity reports (SARs). FinCEN’s penalty is in conjunction with the actions by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and will be satisfied by Western Union’s forfeiture to the U.S. Treasury.