WASHINGTON, Nov. 12, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Majority Shareholders of Banca Privada d'Andorra (BPA), Ramon and Higini Cierco (Ciercos), filed another salvo in their suit against the U.S. Treasury Department and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) for illegally sanctioning BPA. In March of this year, FinCEN issued a Notice of Finding (NOF) and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), which had the effect of immediately barring US banks from doing business with BPA. Before taking this step, FinCEN was required by law to consider the impact of its actions on BPA's legitimate business, which is significant. BPA operated in a number of countries, and its Spanish subsidiary Banco Madrid had more than 20 branches. According to the motion papers filed by the Ciercos, FinCEN simply ignored this requirement, as it has done virtually every other time it has imposed this sanction on a foreign bank. As a result of FinCEN's actions, BPA was seized by its regulators, who are in the process of stripping it of its assets and selling them, without the involvement or approval of the Ciercos.
The motion papers analogize FinCEN's process to the show trial of the Knave of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland, in which the Queen of Hearts declared that the process would be, "Sentence first, verdict afterwards." BPA found itself banned from the US financial system long before it had any opportunity to defend itself. In January of this year, David S. Cohen, Under Secretary of Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence acknowledged in written testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the inability to do business with U.S. banks in U.S. dollars is effectively "a death penalty for any international bank."
According to the motion and its supporting materials, FinCEN's action against BPA was not unique and it was, moreover, aimed at least as much at BPA's home country, Andorra, as it was at the bank itself. The motion papers point to a series of other recent actions by FinCEN in which it targeted and closed down a small bank in a remote jurisdiction in order to get the attention of a foreign regulator who had resisted FinCEN's dictates concerning appropriate money laundering controls. The closing of a bank like BPA is an implicit threat to the foreign jurisdiction about what will happen to other banks, or the jurisdiction itself, unless it complies with FinCEN's demands.
Eric Lewis, lead global coordinator on behalf of the Ciercos said, "The underlying problem is FinCEN's unaccountable and illegal process. FinCEN issued its NPRM and NOF knowing full well the damage it would inflict, the destruction of a valuable bank that was fully compliant with its regulatory regime. We hope that the Court will quickly address this matter so that BPA can remedy the disastrous consequences of FinCEN's improper action on BPA's employees, customers, and shareholders."
The Cierco motion can be found at the following link:
SOURCE Ramon and Higini Cierco