American Express National Bank (Amex) agreed to a $430,500 settlement regarding 214 violations of OFAC’s Kingpin sanctions. Kingpin sanctions are penalties for sanctions outlined in the Kingpin Act of 1999. Penalties for violations of the Kingpin Act range from civil penalties of up to $1.075 million per violation to more severe criminal penalties. Criminal penalties for corporate officers may include up to 30 years in prison and fines up to $5 million. Criminal fines for corporations may reach $10 million. During a two-month period, Amex processed transactions for an account holder – Walter Alexander Del Nogal Marquez – linked to illegal drug distribution and money laundering. Due to human error and compliance program deficiencies, Amex allowed the account holder to engage in $155,189 worth of transactions before identifying the violation.
Why this is important. The relatively low dollar amount of the settlement reflects the fact that once identified, Amex proactively addressed the issues and enhanced its internal systems and controls. In particular, it conducted an extensive and comprehensive internal review and fully cooperated with OFAC’s investigation. The company also independently implemented enhancements to its protocols to ensure appropriate second-level review for “high-confidence” matches, and enable centralized control over account suspensions by the enterprise sanctions teams in order to minimize the possibility of human error.