Commerzbank says has improved money laundering controls

FILE PHOTO: A company logo is pictured at the headquarters of Germany's Commerzbank AG during the annual results news conference in Frankfurt, Germany

Commerzbank CBKG.DE, reacting to a Buzzfeed report which said it was among global banks which had permitted illicit fund transfers despite red flags, said on Monday that it had strengthened its money laundering controls.

Buzzfeed, citing one example, said in its report that Commerzbank had transferred $347 million (270.04 million pounds) to 468 different companies all registered at a single address in Edinburgh between January 2010 and November 2015.

A Commerzbank analyst had informed authorities of the transfers in a so-called suspicious activity report, but Buzzfeed said the transfers continued after the lender had reached a settlement with regulators in March 2015 to pay $1.45 billion in fines and agreed to improve its controls.

Commerzbank said in a statement that allegations in the news report were known about and are “based entirely on reports made by Commerzbank to the responsible authorities, mainly in the period 2010 to 2016”.

It noted it had invested more than 800 million euros ($943 million) in its compliance systems since 2015.

The article quoted a supervisory board member representing the German government’s 15% stake in the lender as saying that the board would ask current management how “such events are identified and reported more efficiently today”.

German financial regulator BaFin told Buzzfeed it would “examine the information presented in more detail and investigate indications of deficits in the prevention of money laundering at Commerzbank”.

Commerzbank shares were down nearly 6% at midday in Frankfurt.

The news report on Commerzbank was one of many from Buzzfeed and other media based on leaked suspicious activity reports filed by banks and other financial firms to the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).

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