Thursday, August 9, 2007

In Florida, Dirty Money is Big Business

Miami, Florida by Jane Bussey

For years, Miami bankers have insisted that the billions of dollars in their bank vaults were clean.

But the record $65 million in sanctions federal regulators assessed against Miami-based American Express Bank International this week underscores that the era of dirty dollars flowing through local financial networks remains a problem.

American Express Bank International, a unit of the global credit card giant American Express Co., became the 19th financial institution in South Florida to face sanctions since 2004.

''On a proportional basis, [given] the number of institutions that Miami has, South Florida leads the country in Bank Secrecy Act and anti-money laundering violations,'' says Charles Intriago, publisher of the Miami-based Money Laundering Alert.

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