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Feds hit ex-U.S. Bancorp exec with $450,000 money-laundering fine

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WASHINGTON – The U.S. government onWednesday said it has hit a former risk officer at a subsidiaryofU.S. Bancorpwith a $450,000 civil penalty for hisrole in failing to prevent violations of the U.S. anti-moneylaunderinglaw.

Michael LaFontaine, the former chief operational riskofficer at U.S. Bank NA, admitted he failed to take steps toimplement and maintain an effective compliance program toprevent money laundering, the Financial Crimes EnforcementNetwork (FinCEN) said on Wednesday.

U.S. Bancorpin 2018 agreed to a $613 million settlementwith the U.S. Department of Justice over related charges. At thetime, prosecutors said the lender failed to detect large numbers of suspicions transactions and concealed missteps fromregulators.

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La Fontaine admitted responsibility in failing to make surethe bank was properly staffed to meet regulations, according toa filing from FinCEN, a unit of the U.S. Department of theTreasury.

“Mr. LaFontaine was warned by his subordinates and byregulators that capping the number of alerts was dangerous andill-advised, FinCEN Director Kenneth A. Blanco said in astatement.

“Over the course of Mr. LaFontaines employment, andcontinuing until May 2015, U.S. Bank failed to establish andimplement an adequate (anti-money laundering) program and toreport suspicious activity, FinCEN said separately in a filing.

A spokesman for LaFontaine said: “While he only hadoversight of U.S. Banks (anti-money laundering) program duringpart of his tenure, he worked hard every day to manage risk and ensure compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.

The bank used automated transaction monitoring software tospot potentially suspicious activity, but it capped the numberof alerts that software-generated, FinCEN said in its statement.

The improper caps were maintained for five years and curtailedlaw enforcements ability to target criminal activity, theregulator said in a separate filing.

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