Commerzbank to pay $1.45bn, fire workers in US deal

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U.S. officials say Commerzbank carried out transactions with U.S.-sanctioned entities in Iran and Sudan.

Commerzbank will pay $1.45 billion to settle claims that transactions with certain clients ran afoul of U.S. sanctions and money laundering laws.

The German bank will fire employees involved in the alleged violations and install an independent monitor as part of the settlement with U.S. and New York regulators, the New York Department of Financial Services said on Thursday.

U.S. officials say Commerzbank excluded information that identified certain clients as Iranian or Sudanese entities subject to U.S. sanctions. The bank used these measures in 60,000 U.S. dollar clearing transactions worth more than $253 billion, regulators said.

Officials also say that internal shortcomings led to the bank's New York branch allowing transactions that facilitated accounting fraud by Olympus, a Japanese optics and medical device manufacturer.

"What is especially disturbing is that employees sought to alter the bank's transaction monitoring system so that it would create fewer 'red flag' alerts about potential misconduct, which highlights a potential broader problem in the banking industry," said Benjamin Lawsky, superintendent of financial services for New York, in a release.

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The bank did not immediately respond to CNBC's request to comment on the deal.

The settlement follows last year's $8.9 billion deal between regulators and French bank BNP Paribas over transactions with U.S.-sanctioned entities.

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