Financial consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers was fined $25 million by the New York Department of Financial Services on Monday for attempting to cover up sanctions violations, according to the Washington Post.
In its settlement with regulators, the company also received a two-year ban on consulting for companies regulated by the New York DFS.
PwC was hired by Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi “to review transactions the bank processed for Iran and other countries under U.S. sanctions.” However, the DFS claims that while conducting the review, PwC learned that “bank executives instituted a policy to remove information that would have triggered alerts.” (RELATED: Obama Announces New Sanctions, Threatens More)
In a preliminary draft of the report, the company said it would have taken a different approach if it had know about that policy sooner, “but when a final report was released two weeks later, the consulting firm, acquiescing to bank demands, changed its tune and said the policy would have had no impact on its findings.”
In a press release on its website, the New York DFS said that PwC also whitewashed parts of the report to prevent regulators from detecting improprieties, creating four versions that were “progressively sanitized based on changes demanded by the Bank.”
In the final version, for instance, they deleted an entire section concerning the use of special characters in wire transfer messages, “which disabled the accounting firm’s filtering system from detecting at least several transactions involving Sudan and Myanmar. (e.g. SUD#AN)” (RELATED: Export-Import Bank Backed Two Russian Companies Hit By Sanctions)
PwC also deleted “the English translation of BTMU’s wire stripping instructions, which referenced the Bank doing business with ‘enemy countries’ of the U.S.,” as well as, “most of PwC’s discussion of BTMU’s wire-stripping activities.”
The New York DFS said that as part of the settlement, “PwC will work to implement a series of reforms to help address conflicts of interest in the consulting industry,” in an effort to prevent a recurrence of the situation.
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