Western Union successfully protecting wire transfers against money-laundering
A court monitor has found that Western Union has successfully implemented protections recommended by the Arizona Attorney General’s Office to stop the wiring of illicit cash.
Western Union has successfully put in place protections recommended by the Arizona Attorney General’s Office to prevent the flow of illicit cash via the company’s money-wiring service, a court monitor decided Thursday.
The Attorney General’s Office found in the early 2000s the service was being abused by Mexican cartels to launder money generated by drug and human trafficking. The agency stopped 15,000 transactions and confiscated nearly $17 million in the mid-2000s under then-Attorney General Terry Goddard as he sought to stop an onslaught of human smuggling into Arizona.
Western Union officials complained at the time that the attorney general’s efforts subjected their customers to intimidation and threats by investigators.
An agreement reached in 2010 — and amended in 2014 — required Western Union to implement a compliance program in the Southwest, according to a court order accepting the monitor’s final report.
Western Union was given a deadline of Oct. 31, 2015, by which to carry out the primary recommendations. The company is required by the settlement to put in place secondary recommendations by next year, said Mia Garcia, press officer for the Arizona Attorney General’s Office.
“We’ll continue to work with Western Union once the secondary recommendations are met,” Garcia said.
Garcia said specific recommendations and the court monitor’s report are sealed — Western Union argued releasing the information to the public would give competitors proprietary information about the company’s workings.
“The completion of the primary recommendations represents a significant milestone,” John R. Dye, executive vice president and general counsel of Western Union, said in a news release. “Protecting the integrity of our network, while remaining compliant and providing services to consumers and businesses worldwide, is a key priority for the company.”
The latest development comes on the heels of a federal judge’s late-June decision that state investigators did not violate the constitutional rights of plaintiffs when they seized the electronic payments of some who used Western Union to wire money to Arizona or Mexico. Investigators with the Attorney General’s Office seized money transfers they suspected of being generated by illegal activities.
The judge said the seizures were carried out in reasonable good faith.
The lawsuit was backed by Western Union and Chicago-based immigrant-rights groups.
Illegal Western Union wire transfers amounted to $1.7 billion from 20