An investigation conducted in 2020 by the Public Prosecutor of the Attorney General's Office of Curaçao, Sint Maarten and Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba (OM) working in the Anti-Corruption taskforce (TBO) has resulted in a Bank operating locally to be sanctioned according to the sanctioning regime and legislation in force in the jurisdiction. The terms of the settlement included the following sanctions: a fine of 200,000 Netherlands Antillean guilders (NAf.) against the Bank and a publication of a press release by the OM. As stated in the press release , the mentioned sanctions encourage more reporting of unusual transactions by the Bank to the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU).
In 2015, the OM had seized an account in the Bank following an international request for legal assistance. The account holder was the subject of a criminal investigation abroad, and the balance in the account was estimated at NAf 1 million at the time. A subsequent investigation in 2020 disclosed that the Bank paid the balance to the account holder without the seizure being lifted. The OM launched a criminal investigation against the Bank since withdrawal of assets from a seizure is a criminal offense. Further inquiries showed that the Bank also did not notify the FIU in a timely manner. Financial institutions are obliged to report financial transactions where there are grounds to believe that these may be connected to money laundering (ML) or terrorist financing (TF) under the National Ordinance on the Reporting of Unusual Transactions. Failure to comply with this obligation is a criminal offence.
In close cooperation with the requesting country, it was possible for the OM to seize the amount again, this time abroad. A foreign Court of First Instance has since convicted the account holder for ML. The OM stated that after both the Prosecution and the Bank became aware of the criminally culpable act of withdrawal from seizure, the Bank employed an external party to conduct an internal investigation. The result of the investigation was described in a report, which has been shared with the OM. The OM noted that “the report reveals a thorough investigation and also describes the measures already taken and those to be taken to prevent the described wrongdoings. The report also describes the failure to report unusual transactions to the FIU in a timely manner. The thoroughness of the investigation, its promptness, and the internal measures were all grounds for the OM to offer a settlement”.