RABOBANK: “Cooperating fully” in drug cartel money laundering investigation

The Rabobank branch in Calexico, California is facing an investigation by American judicial authorities due to suspicions of across the border money laundering. Rabobank is “cooperating fully” with the investigation, a spokesperson for the bank told NRC.

The authorities became suspicious due to the high number of armored trucks taking away excess dollars sometimes more than once a week, Bloomberg reports.

Calexico is a town in the California desert that is about a two minute walk away from the Mexican border. The money mostly came from Mexicali, Calexico’s Mexican neighbor, presumably from people who maintain ties to Mexican drug cartels, newspaper AD reports based on an anonymous source. According to the source, it was not unusual to see a customer come in with a backpack containing some 350 thousand dollars. A few times someone even came in to deposit a million dollars.

California has a lot of problems with across the border drug trafficking and related crimes, like money laundering and violence. Banks in the area are therefore required to put in extra effort to avoid being an instrument for such crimes. For example, US law states that if a customer comes in with a large amount of cash, the bank is required to check where it came from and raise the alarm if necessary, according to the source.

This is not the first time that Rabobank has been involved in a money laundering investigation by the American authorities. In 2011, for example, the US authorities confiscated money from the accounts of a fitness center that had ties with Mexican cocaine smugglers, according to AD. In that case a car dealer and a customs agent admitted to laundering drug lords’ money. At the time the US Authorities already asked Rabobank to report suspicious activity.

In 2013 Rabobank acknowledged that there were problems with compliance with anti-money laundering rules. The Bank and the US Treasury Department reached an agreement in which the bank promised to improve and develop a plan to mitigate the risks. The authorities are now investigating whether the bank has done enough to prevent money laundering through that branch.

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