By JERUSALEM POST STAFF
Credit Suisse Group has agreed to pay $536 million to settle a Justice Department probe and admit to violating US economic sanctions by hiding the booming business it was doing for Iranian banks.
The settlement papers were filed Wednesday in federal court in Washington.
The bank has been under criminal investigation for years over business it did with countries subject to US economic sanctions between 2002 and 2007.
The settlement papers charge the bank had a long-running business aimed at helping Iranian banks evade the sanctions by hiding the identity of their Iranian customers in international money transactions.
"Credit Suisse's internal communications showed a continuous dialogue about evading US sanctions spanning approximately a decade," according to government papers filed in the case.
Earlier this year, Lloyds TSB Bank PLC agreed to forfeit $350m. for helping customers skirt US sanctions on business transactions with Sudan, Iran and Libya.
The court papers filed Wednesday say that when Lloyds decided in 2003 to stop doing such business, the Iranian banks moved their business over to Credit Suisse.
As a result, Credit Suisse quadrupled the number of Iranian transactions in US dollars between the years 2002 and 2005, from about 50,000 to about 200,000.
US authorities also said Credit Suisse handled a far smaller number of transactions involving other countries facing sanctions, including Libya, Sudan, and Burma.
The bank began winding down their sanction-evading business in 2006, the government said.
Credit Suisse acknowledged Tuesday it was near a settlement in talks with the Justice Department, Federal Reserve, Manhattan district attorney's office and the Treasury Department.
The Manhattan district attorney's office confirmed Tuesday it was negotiating with the bank.
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