Fincen Uncovers Casino’s Bank Secrecy Act Crimes

In May 2013, the U.S. Attorney General’s office filed charges against the former VIP services manager of a Trinian (Mariana Islands) casino and the casino manager alleging violations of the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA). According to the complaint, from September 2009 through April 2013, the defendants willfully violated BSA laws by helping wealthy casino patrons avoid detection of their large cash transactions by agreeing not to file Currency Transaction Reports (CTRs) or Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs). Those reports were required under BSA for cash transactions involving more than 10,000 USD. This past week, an additional 148 counts were filed against the former owners of the casino for the same or similar activity.

FinCEN Reaches Settlement

Ten days ago, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), the financial intelligence unit of the Department of the Treasury, entered into an agreement with the former VIP services manager of the casino under which he agreed to pay a $5,000 civil money penalty and accept a permanent bar from working in financial institutions. Within the meaning of BSA, the casino was defined as both a “casino” and a “financial institution.” The VIP services manager allegedly assured high-end gamblers that he would not file the required BSA reports that would have disclosed their large cash transactions. In at least one instance, the casino customer he gave such assurances to turned out to be an undercover agent posing as a representative of a Russian businessman.

Casino Facilitated Unlawful Activity

According to a statement released by FinCEN Director Jennifer Shasky Calvery: There is nothing wrong with a casino being hospitable to its clients. However, there is everything wrong when a casino – or a casino official – facilitates the unlawful activities of these clients, and agrees to look the other way. Today’s enforcement action not only stresses the importance of the culture of compliance, but also ensures that [the defendant] will not have the opportunity to engage in similar misconduct in the future.

Former Casino Owners Face Charges

In addition to the 10 charges filed in the recently settled FinCEN case, a superseding indictment filed in federal court last week charged the former owners of the casino with 155 counts of failure to file currency transaction reports, one count of conspiracy to cause a financial institution to fail to file a currency transaction report, one count of failure to file a suspicious activity report and one count of failure to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program. The former owners allegedly failed to file about 3,640 CTRs for cash transactions over $10,000, with the total amount of reportable transactions not filed amounting to about $1.38 million.