The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) fined A&S World Trading $275,000 for willful violations of the Bank Secrecy Act in its first enforcement action against a company for failing to comply with a geographic targeting order (GTO).
FinCEN in October 2014 issued the GTO imposing reporting and record-keeping obligations on certain trades and businesses located within the Los Angeles Fashion District. The purpose of the GTO was to “enhance law enforcement’s ongoing efforts to identify and pursue cases against persons and businesses engaged in the illicit movement of U.S. currency to Mexico and Colombia on behalf of prominent drug trafficking organizations,” FinCEN stated in a press release at the time.
Nearly eight years later, FinCEN’s landmark action announced Friday stated A&S, doing business as perfume store Fine Fragrance, failed to comply with the GTO’s requirements.
“Despite its age, the timing of this action is a shot across the bow of entities receiving these requests to take them seriously, including those likely being imposed to support Treasury’s effort in combating Russian oligarchs,” said Braddock Stevenson, of counsel with law firm Paul Hastings’ Global Fintech Enforcement Team and a former deputy associate director of FinCEN’s Enforcement Division.
The misconduct took place from October 2014 until about April 2015, FinCEN said. After an examination by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) flagged the violations, FinCEN found, and A&S admitted, the company failed to report at least 114 separate transactions or groups of transactions totaling approximately $2.3 million, as required by the GTO.
“The company’s failures undoubtedly had a negative impact on FinCEN’s mission to safeguard the financial system from illicit use and combat money laundering,” the agency said in its consent order.
“FinCEN’s enforcement action puts nonfinancial trades and businesses on notice that they must comply with geographic targeting orders,” said FinCEN Acting Director Himamauli Das in a press release. “This action also illustrates FinCEN’s long-standing efforts to partner with other government agencies to combat money laundering schemes designed to launder the proceeds of criminal activity through nonfinancial trades and businesses in the United States.”
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