Goodbody buyer fined €3.9m after money laundering probe

The Chinese bank poised to buy Goodbody Stockbrokers has been fined €3.9m by French prosecutors for failing to prevent money laundering and for allowing tax fraud.

The Bloomberg news agency reported on Tuesday that Bank of China Ltd had agreed to pay €3.9m in fines and tax contributions to end the criminal prosecution in the case, citing a statement from the office of Paris prosecutor Remi Heitz.

Under the terms of the settlement Bank of China acknowledged the facts of the case but did not plead guilty. Charges against the bank have been dropped as part of the settlement.
Bank of China is the parent company of Bank of China UK which is in the process of buying Ireland’s second biggest stock broker Goodbody for €155m.

The Irish takeover has been approved by competition authorities but is still awaiting authorisation from the Central Bank of Ireland.

In France, the Chinese state-owned bank had been charged with aggravated money laundering over the transfer of suspect funds worth nearly €40m to 168 Bank of China accounts mostly in China’s Zhejiang province between 2012 and 2014.

The money was moved through accounts in a number of European countries before being sent to China.
The French prosecutors office said cases will continue against 28 business owners and intermediaries involved in transferring funds to China.

Bloomberg reported that the probe began after a routine check when French anti-money laundering body, known as Tracfin, noticed a very unusual increase over a few months in the revenue of a Paris-based shop that specialized in urgent locksmith and plumbing repairs.

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