The Federal Reserve said on Wednesday it fined Deutsche Bank and its U.S. affiliates $186m for failing to sufficiently address money laundering control problems and other shortcomings previously flagged by the U.S. central bank.
The new penalty for lingering issues marks the latest blow for the German lender, which has struggled for years to get on solid ground with regulators in Europe and the United States.
Deutsche must prioritize addressing several of those issues or face “additional and escalated” penalties, the Fed said. It separately ordered the bank to improve its risk and data management.
The Fed had identified the previous issues in 2015 and 2017 consent orders, which stemmed from deficient controls in Deutsche’s relationship with the Estonian branch of Danske Bank.
In a statement, Deutsche Bank said it is committed to addressing the Fed-identified shortcomings in the “near future,” and said the fine is largely covered by provisions taken in prior quarters.
“We believe we are well positioned to meet our regulators’ expectations,” the bank said.
President Joe Biden’s administration has vowed to crack down on repeat corporate offenders and illicit funds flowing through the U.S. financial system.
The new fine is also a new challenge for Stefan Simon, who took over U.S. operations for the bank this year after the departure of former U.S. chief Christiana Riley.
For Deutsche, the Fed’s penalties mark the latest in years of regulatory struggles. In November, the German finance watchdog told Deutsche to improve its money laundering controls. U.S. and German regulators have launched probes into greenwashing allegations at Deutsche-controlled investment management firm DWS.
The bank in 2021 agreed to pay $125 million to avoid prosecution on charges that it manipulated precious metals markets and engaged in foreign bribery schemes. It also paid $75 million to settle a lawsuit by women who say they were abused by the late financier Jeffrey Epstein, and accused the German bank of facilitating his sex trafficking.
In its latest order, the Fed said it found a “significant portion” of the $276 billion in transactions Deutsche cleared for Danske Bank involved “high-risk non-resident customers.” Shortcomings in Deutsche’s policies on money laundering persisted after its relationship with Danske ended in 2015, the Fed said.
In December, Danske pleaded guilty to a bank fraud conspiracy.
Reuters – Pete Schroeder and Chris Prentice