Ex-Bank Executive Whose Firm Hid Drug Money Faces Industry Ban

(Bloomberg) -- A former Rabobank Groep executive may be barred from the U.S. banking industry over a regulator’s claims that he lied to examiners and concealed information about the Dutch lender’s money-laundering vulnerabilities.

Daniel Weiss, who was general counsel for the bank’s U.S. unit until he was fired in 2015, “knowingly and willfully participated in the making of materially false statements” to federal bank examiners, according to an order from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. In addition to the ban, he faces a $50,000 fine, the OCC said in the order dated March 25.

Rabobank NA, the company’s U.S. arm, pleaded guilty last year to a felony conspiracy to hide evidence about its part in the flow of about $369 million in suspicious transactions including money tied to Mexican drug trafficking, and the OCC has been pursuing cases against former executives, including Weiss and ex-Chief Executive Officer John Ryan.

Weiss, who can choose to appeal the OCC’s decision in a hearing, is “disappointed” that the agency pursued charges, according to his San Diego-based lawyer, John Rice. In an emailed statement, Rice said his client will contest the allegations and that he “never violated any laws nor did he attempt to obstruct any examination of the bank.”

Bryan Hubbard, an OCC spokesman, declined to comment.

Despite evidence of a conspiracy among executives that U.S. prosecutors presented to support the conviction of the bank, the Justice Department declined to pursue individual cases against executives. The OCC had previously issued a similar notice of charges against Laura Akahoshi, the bank’s former compliance chief. She is contesting the OCC’s findings, but her lawyer didn’t respond to a request for comment on the case’s current status.

The status of the OCC’s probe of Ryan’s involvement is also unclear. The regulator hasn’t moved to penalize the former CEO, and a lawyer representing him didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Much of Rabobank’s U.S. business -- including a group of about 100 retail branches in California -- is being acquired by Mechanics Bank for about $2.1 billion, according to an agreement announced last month.

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