Wachovia Bank has agreed to pay $160 million to settle U.S. charges that it failed to stop more than $100 million of Colombian and Mexican drug traffickers’ money being laundered through accounts at the bank, U.S. authorities said Wednesday.

March 17, 2010 MIAMI, – Wachovia Bank has agreed to pay $160 million to settle U.S. charges that it failed to stop more than $100 million of Colombian and Mexican drug traffickers’ money being laundered through accounts at the bank, U.S. authorities said Wednesday.

The deferred prosecution agreement announced in Miami, which included a $50 million fine to be paid to the U.S. Treasury, was the largest penalty ever imposed for a violation of the U.S. Bank Secrecy Act, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida Jeffrey H. Sloman told reporters.

Sloman said a “systematic” failure by Wachovia, now a unit of Wells Fargo & Co , to maintain effective anti-money laundering (AML) controls had led to more than $400 billion in unmonitored funds being channelled to accounts at the bank between 2004 and 2007 by currency exchange houses in Mexico, mostly through wire transfers

He added this money included millions of dollars that were used by Mexican and Colombian cartels to purchase airplanes in the United States for cross-border drug trafficking operations, according to a U.S. investigation lasting more than four years, which also involved the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

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