Friday, February 12, 2010

White Collar: Western Union Settles Money Laundering Charges with Arizona

Western Union Financial Services has settled civil money laundering actions brought by the state of Arizona. The settlement in state court in Arizona calls for Western Union to make total payments of $94 million to settle a series of lawsuits. The actions claimed that Western Union was allowing Mexican drug cartels and human smugglers to use its money transferring facilities to launder criminal proceeds. The state alleged that Western Union's money transferring services had become the favored means of payment for networks smuggling humans across the border.

Under the terms of the agreement Western Union will pay Arizona $21 million to reimburse the state for its legal and law enforcement expenditures between 2003 and 2007. The company will also contribute $50 million to a law enforcement grant program jointly operated by the four states bordering Mexico (California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas). Additionally, Western Union will spend $23 million to upgrade its anti money laundering efforts. An independent entity will monitor the upgrading efforts. Finally, as part of the agreement, each of the four states bordering Mexico has committed to making $7,000,000 available as grants to border security agencies. These states combine on the U.S. side to form a 2000 border with Mexico.

In the past state border enforcement has found itself outgunned and technologically behind the criminals in combating crime at the Mexican border. Arizona officials hope that aggressive enforcement of money laundering provisions will provide a significant boost in the fight against the illegal cartels.

For more about the settlement, please see The Washington Post, February 11, 2010,

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