Western Union Antigua denies non-compliance claims

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The Antigua agent of Western Union is denying allegations that the company was suspended indefinitely, for failing to comply with the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Countering Financing of Terrorism (CFT) Act imposed by the Office of Money Laundering & Control Policy (ONDCP).

Yolanda Giles-Levy, Communications and Sponsorship Manager for Grace Kennedy Money Services, the agents for Western Union in Antigua, says the closure “has absolutely nothing to do with money laundering and claims that she was “stunned” when those allegations were reported by media in Antigua because they “are absolutely not true”.

“The system for Antigua has to be sorted out ASAP, there is no uniqueness and it was just Antigua’s time,” she said during an on-air interview with the Observer Media.

Giles-Levy however stopped short of detailing why the agents representing Western Union in Antigua were the only ones targeted in this “service upgrade”.  She also refrained from saying whether the ONDCP recently met with the organisation to conduct a review of its operations, as was reported.

When asked whether the system upgrade had anything to do with a review by the ONDCP, she simply replied “no”.

The agent representative claims that the company was unable to continue offering its service while the upgrade is being carried out because “of the nature of the upgrade”, but failed to specify the exact nature.

“Western Union has among the strictest compliance regulations across the World, even stricter than banks. Many countries look to Western Union to see how they too can improve their compliance so when we are doing our upgrades we have to be very careful and we have to ensure that what we’re doing is absolutely perfect,” she explained.

Giles-Levy was also unable to give a definite time as to when operations would resume and added that it is “taking longer than we had hoped but we do hope to get back the service soonest”.

“I really can’t give you a definite timeline, just know that we are working assiduously to get the system back up and running because we do know it’s an inconvenience,” she added.

According to the representative, the disruption right now is just for Antigua, the other 11 markets across the Caribbean are up and running. She also said that Western Union is continuing to look at the system throughout the region and it has been taking steps to adhere to the anti-money laundering systems and protocols of each market.

Western Union franchises across the World have in the past been involved in fraudulent activities and in 2017; the U.S Department of Justice fined the company for violating anti-money laundering laws.

According to an online article published by the U.S Justice department on January 19th, 2017, the Western Union Company agreed to forfeit $586 million and enter into agreements with the Justice Department, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and the U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, the Central District of California, the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the Southern District of Florida.

In its agreement with the Justice Department, the article noted that the Western Union admitted to criminal violations including willfully failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering (AML) program and aiding and abetting wire fraud.

Western Union services across Antigua have been unavailable since Saturday, May 5th 2018.

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6 COMMENTS

  1. “The system for Antigua has to be sorted out ASAP…” SORTED OUT?? Interesting choice of words used by a “professional” yardie in a media interview. she kept going around the mulberry bush. It was tiring to listen to.

    +2-02 ratings
  2. I have no problem that the representative from Western Union is not willing to publicly announced the reasons for the upgrade because of security and their own image. But I do have an issue when a host of a program try to corner his guest in such a manner by repeating the question in several ways in order to subtract the answer he wants to get. It is not proper in journalism and shows un-professionalism on his part. Shows that all the media house is interested in is melee. Just like when he had the lady from the Medical University on the program. Observer’s ways and manners of journalism is sinking lower everyday. no wonder even the Speaker of the house had to take them to task. And tell them they can repeat what he said in Parliament over and over again if they choose to.

    +6-28 ratings
  3. The answer you seek. May come from MoneyGram if they are still in business. Did ondcp audit them. What was the outcome ?

    If it was really an upgrade not related to compliance she would say.companies are very proud when they annoince upgrades for better service. not proud when they upgrade to provide the same.. eg. We are upgrading to be able to provide cross platform transfers to locations where Western Union does not operate.

    I’m waiting for the headlines.

    +0-33 ratings

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