Department of Justice Investigates Florida Institution for Bank Secrecy Act Violations
Recently, Gibraltar Private Bank & Trust, based in Coral Gables, revealed to its shareholders that it is being investigated by the Department of Justice’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section for potential violations of federal anti-money laundering laws. It published this information in its annual report, following an order to do so to ensure compliance with federal law. Gibraltar caters to a wealthy client base, and it handles accounts for several large law and accounting firms.
One of the furthest-reaching laws designed to curb money laundering is the Currency and Foreign Transactions Reporting Act, also known as the Bank Secrecy Act. This Act obligates U.S. financial institutions to aid U.S. government agencies in detecting and preventing money laundering. Banks must keep records of cash purchases of negotiable financial instruments, file reports of any cash transactions involving more than $10,000, and report suspicious activity that could indicate tax evasion, money laundering, or other forms of financial crime to a central regulatory database known as FinCEN. Typically, banks will have dedicated officers who are responsible for ensuring compliance, and larger banks may employ whole teams to monitor and report on potential criminal activity.
Allegations of violations of anti-money laundering laws are not rare, according to local bank analysts. Some of the best-run banks in Florida have been subject to investigation, both for civil and criminal violations of federal law. However, regulatory actions against banks have been brought less frequently in recent years following the financial crisis, and should be taken very seriously, especially when they are pursued by the DOJ itself.
The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Department of Treasury generally pursue civil suits against banks, while the DOJ’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section is often responsible for criminal prosecution. The Asset Forfeiture Section targets and keeps tabs on the funds used for criminal purposes, and although banks keep these funds, concerns over the criminal activities of a bank’s account holders will not typically result in investigation of the bank itself, and the investigation of Gibraltar’s could point to issues with the bank’s own assets.
Protect Yourself from Allegations
The complexities of an investigation relating to money laundering within a large financial institution can be overwhelming. A knowledgeable, experienced attorney who knows the money laundering rules inside and out can help untangle the web, alerting you to areas of potential concern. If you have been accused of failing to comply with federal law regarding transactions on any level, contact an attorney well-versed in white collar criminal defense immediately, before speaking with investigators.
Penalties for criminal convictions far outweigh the punishments attached to civil liability, and can include prison time, on top of fines and restitution. To preserve your liberty and reputation, the team at Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. will work tirelessly to avoid charges being filed, or to craft an aggressive defense if necessary. Contact our office today at 305-670-9919 for a consultation on your matter.