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PRESS RELEASE 03-08
August 14, 2003
Contact: Alana Golden, Public Information Officer
(916) 323-7012 or (916) 322-5966
www.dfi.ca.gov

Department of Financial Institutions Announces Consent Agreement with Western Union - Western Union will spend $5 million on compliance and agent supervision program

San Francisco - The Department of Financial Institutions announced today that they have reached a Consent Agreement with Western Union for alleged violations of federal and California anti-money laundering laws and regulations, including the Bank Secrecy Act ("BSA"), the USA PATRIOT Act, and their implementing regulations. The Consent Agreement requires Western Union to spend $5 million in California to enhance its BSA compliance program, and its program for the training and supervision of its agents. California law requires that all persons authorized to transmit money abroad comply with all applicable state and federal laws.

The Consent Agreement arises out of Western Union's alleged failure to file certain Currency Transaction Reports ("CTRs") and Suspicious Activity Reports (“SARs”) during 2002, and because of its inadequate agent monitoring and training program. In particular, Western Union allegedly failed to file CTRs on multiple same day transactions conducted at different agents which, when aggregated, totaled in excess of $10,000.

The terms of the Consent Agreement require Western Union to:

  • Spend $5 million on its compliance, training and agent supervision program in the state of California;
  • Comply with all relevant provisions of the BSA, the USA PATRIOT Act, and the California Money Transmitters Law within 30 days from the date of the Consent Agreement:
  • Put in place an acceptable BSA compliance program within 30 days of the date of the Consent Agreement; and
  • Initiate and effective agent training, supervision and monitoring program within 30 days of the date of the Consent Agreement.

Western Union cooperated with the Department during its investigation and, to date, all CTRs and SARs for California have been back-filed with the proper authorities.

Western Union Financial Services Inc. is a subsidiary of First Data Corp. Western Union has more than 150,000 agent locations in over 185 countries worldwide.

The Department of Financial Institutions is responsible for administering State laws regulating state-licensed banks, state-licensed savings associations, state-licensed trust companies, state-licensed offices of foreign banks, issuers of travelers checks and payment instruments (money orders), transmitters of money abroad, state-licensed credit unions, and state-licensed industrial banks. The Department reports to Maria Contreras-Sweet, Secretary of the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency and Governor Gray Davis.