Rabobank — now known as Coöperatieve Rabobank U.A. — andseveral of its former and current officials are under investigation in the U.S.and may soon face charges over alleged money laundering lapses that allowed Mexicandrug cartel money to move through the bank, Bloomberg News reported May 5,citing "people familiar with the matter."
Two sources told the news agency that U.S. prosecutors have questionedpast and current Rabobank employees regarding anti-money laundering measures atbranches along the U.S.-Mexico border, and some employees were asked to testifybefore the U.S. grand jury concerning the actions of certain bank executives.The grand jury is now evaluating evidence against the lender.
Among bank officials mentioned during questioning wereStephen Byron, the lender's U.S. director of Bank Secrecy Act compliance andLaura Akahoshi, former chief compliance officer at Rabobank's U.S. retailbanking unit, RabobankNA, sources said. Questions were also asked about the role ofRonald Blok, who served as Rabobank NA's CEO from 2006 to 2012, Bloomberg noted.
Though final decisions may still take a few months,prosecutors are now confident that they have sufficient evidence to filecharges against the lender, one of the sources said. They are also trying todetermine whether Rabobank or any of its executives tried to concealinformation from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which couldresult in additional charges for obstruction, sources said.
Rabobank said it is cooperating with the probe, but itdeclined to comment further on the issue.
Problems at Rabobank's U.S. unit started in 2006 when the OCCwarned the bank that it had insufficient anti-money laundering measures. OtherU.S. agencies including the Internal Revenue Service also put the bank underscrutiny. The lender already closed some of its branches along the Mexicoborder.