Thursday, April 19, 2007

Stickin' it to the Man: BDA Fights Back!

Frankly, this is a story I wasn't expecting to see. Our good friends over at Banco Delta Asia have apparently had enough of the man trying to keep them down...and they're doing something about it!

The IHT reports that BDA is challenging the US Treasury Department's decision to bar it from access to the US financial system because it feels the decision was politically motivated, lacked sufficient evidence, ignored remedial measures the bank had taken, and denied BDA the opportunity to respond to some of the allegations made in due course. They have thus decided to employ the most nefarious of all tools, the New York Lawyer, to redress the situation! Oh, the humanity of it all. How dare they play by our rules and use our own laws against us!

Other interesting factoids from the piece:
  • The bank is family owned. A gentleman named Stanley Au, a Macao business type, apparently owns it. The IHT story describes him as "an adviser to the Chinese government." Hmmm...yeah...adviser.
  • The ruling was apparently made under the Patriot Act. (I'm biting my tongue here). Maybe it's my faulty memory, but I don't remember seeing this tidbit mentioned in the reports that covered the development at the time. Wonder what that says (if I'm right).
  • The case has apparently engendered a modicum of legal reform in China, as the Macao banking authorities have passed new laws against money laundering as a direct result of the incident.

Understandably so, given the impact this must be having on their business, BDA seems quite concerned. Upon accessing their website,, the following "Important Statement," more than a month old, appears in a large popup window:

March 16, 2007
Important Statement

By Group Chairman, Delta Asia Group (Holdings) Ltd In Response To US Department Of Treasury's Announcement Dated March 14, 2007

Delta Asia Group (Holdings) Limited (“DAGH”) regrets the US Department of Treasury’s decision to finalise the rulemaking to impose a special measure against our commercial banking arm, Banco Delta Asia, S.A.R.L. (“BDA”).

DAGH denies that BDA knew or suspected that its customers were engaged in money laundering or that any of its customers were engaged in any criminal activities or their funds were in any way connected with such activities. It is always BDA’s commitment to ensuring that its anti-money laundering policies and procedures comply with the guidelines and requirements of the regulator, that is, the Macau Monetary Authority.

Since the designation of BDA by the US Department of Treasury in September 2005, BDA has always been co-operating fully with the US regulator and remains committed to enhancing its anti-money laundering (“AML”) and know-your-client policies and procedures. To demonstrate substantial improved performance in this regard, BDA has made significant efforts at tremendous cost to:

1. review accounts and close the concerned accounts;

2. further enhance its AML policies and revise its AML manual;

3. commission international and independent professional accounting firm to identify weaknesses and implement effective programme to improve the AML programme;

4. hire compliance officer

5. improve and upgrade information technology system

DAGH expects BDA to continue to appeal against this rulemaking and to seek further dialogue and co-operation with the US Department of Treasury.

I'm not familiar with international banking practices, but I'd be interested to know how long these types of restrictions usually last and how often such appeals are successful. I wonder if the case will be expedited because it's so high profile. Otherwise, this could take a while, as the case might, as I like to say, "move with the speed of government."

Still no word on the North getting its money or movement to shut down the reactor. And so it goes...

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