Department of Financial Institutions Announces Termination of Consent Agreement with Western Union

Jul 25, 2007

(San Francisco, CA) The California Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) announced today that the Department has terminated the Consent Agreement entered into with Western Union dated August 14, 2003. The termination of the Consent Agreement followed an examination by the DFI and numerous meetings with Western Union management and compliance officials.

The Consent Agreement required that Western Union take steps to strengthen its compliance with California law and federal anti-money laundering and Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) requirements, as well as strengthen the supervision of its agents. California law requires that all persons authorized to transmit money abroad comply with all applicable state and federal laws.

Western Union also was obligated to spend at least $5 million on its BSA compliance program, and its program for the training and supervision of its agents in California over the course of the Consent Agreement.

“Licensing and regulating money transmitters ensures that the customers, often low-income non-English speaking residents, are treated in a fair and equitable manner,” said Michael A. Kelley, Commissioner. “DFI’s goal is to ensure that California’s money transmitters operate with safety and soundness and in compliance with applicable laws, rules and regulations. Western Union’s compliance with these and other requirements of the Consent Agreement were key factors in the lifting of this regulatory action. “

In 2006, money transmitters sent $13.1 billion dollars from California to foreign countries, and there were 34,987,000 transactions. This is a dramatic rise from the $4 billion transmitted and the 10,971,000 transactions in 2000.

DFI supervises over 700 financial institutions. The Department is responsible for administering state laws regulating state-licensed financial institutions: banks, credit unions, industrial banks, savings associations, trust companies, offices of foreign banks, issuers of travelers’ checks and payment instruments (money orders), and money transmitters. DFI reports to Business, Transportation & Housing Agency Secretary Dale E. Bonner and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.