The United States is suing former MoneyGram chief compliance officer Thomas Haider as prosecutors wish to hold him personally responsible for the fact that telemarketing scammers managed to at some point receive payments through MoneyGram's services. The suit was announced by Preet Bharara, the US Attorney for the Southern District of Manhattan and FinCEN director Jennifer Shasky Calvery.
MoneyGram is a money transfer business in the strict sense of the term. Among other services MoneyGram's primary business involves people going to physical locations where registered agents participating in MoneyGram network accept cash and information from customers to credit money to another party. Sometimes the other party is another person also going to a particular physical location to receive cash, while other times the receiving party is a financial institution or business. Here is a sample use case:
- Bob is stuck by adversity away from home and lacks money or resources to return so he contacts Alice.
- Alice goes to her local MoneyGram Agent and deposits cash and fills out a form so that money goes to Bob.
- Bob goes to the nearest MoneyGram Agent and after filling out a form receives money in the amount Alice had transfered.
- MoneyGram gives all of Alice and Bob's information to Eve (FinCEN)
Back in 2012 MoneyGram, the corporate person, admitted to violations of anti-money laundering and anti wire fraud laws. In exchange for deferring prosecution MoneyGram, the corporate person, forfeited one hundred million dollars. The current lawsuit against the actual person who happened to be MoneyGram's compliance officer at one time seeks to collect a one million dollar penalty FinCEN decided to assess as well as to forbid Haider:
from participating, directly or indirectly, in the conduct of the affairs of any “financial institution” (as that term is used in the BSA) that is located in the United States or conducts business within the United States, for a term of years sufficient to prevent future harm to the public.
Haider left MoneyGram in 2008 well before MoneyGram, the corporate person, made the decision to settle with the United States government in exchange for deferred prosecution. A Reuters report on the suit offers a bit of perspecive from Haider's defense team:
Haider believes the allegations are unfounded, his lawyers said, adding that the lawsuit would have a chilling effect on compliance officers at U.S. financial institutions.
"While the current government mantra is for heightened individual responsibility, this is the wrong case to try to establish this principle," Comisky [one of Haider's lawyers] said in a statement.
Preet Bharara whose office is pursuing the case recently had a number of convictions he attained in insider trading cases overturned on appeal.