NEWARK — A community bank in New Jersey will pay $8.2 million to settle claims that it violated anti-money-laundering laws by processing $1.5 billion in suspicious transactions, US authorities said Tuesday.
The two-branch Saddle River Valley Bank, which closed last year, failed to properly monitor transactions for three currency exchange businesses in Mexico and one in the Dominican Republic from 2009 to 2011, US Attorney Paul Fishman said Tuesday in a statement. The United States has warned that such businesses, known as casas de cambio, often launder the proceeds of narcotics sales.
The $8.2 million penalty represents most of the bank’s assets, which are valued at $9.2 million, according to Fishman.
‘‘It’s pretty remarkable that a small community bank in suburban New Jersey was attracting more than a billion dollars in transactions with customers in Mexico and the Dominican Republic, and nobody thought it was too good to be true,’’ Jennifer Shasky Calvery, FinCEN’s director, said in a statement.