HOUSTON — An American Express Co. subsidiary has reached a $50-million settlement with the government that prosecutors said includes the biggest civil fine ever assessed against a U.S. bank for money laundering.
The settlement with American Express Bank International, which provides banking services to overseas clients of American Express Bank, stemmed from an investigation of a Mexican drug ring that allegedly smuggles hundreds of tons of Colombian cocaine a year into the United States.
Two officers from the Beverly Hills, Calif.-based bank were convicted earlier this year in the money laundering scheme.
"This case is important because it accomplishes an important goal in the war against drugs by taking the profit--money from the drug dealers--and eliminating the principal money laundering avenue," U.S. Atty. Gaynelle Griffin Jones said in announcing the settlement reached Friday.
Under the settlement, the government agreed not to seek criminal charges against the bank.
The bank agreed to forfeit $40 million that prosecutors contend was laundered by the former bank officers, Antonio Giraldi and Lourdes Reategui.