ING faces $800 million probe over corruption in Uzbekistan

REUTERS/Francois Lenoir/File Photo

AMSTERDAM: ING is facing a criminal investigation by Dutch prosecutors into its role in money laundering and corruption in Uzbekistan that could result in significant fines, a spokeswoman for the Dutch prosecutor’s office said on Wednesday.

ING’s involvement was disclosed publicly in documents filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York in February 2016.

U.S. prosecutors said $800 million in bribes were paid to shell companies owned by a high-ranking official in Uzbekistan related to late President Islam Karimov.

The U.S. court documents showed that $184 million of the payments originated from ING Bank.

ING Spokesman Raymond Vermeulen confirmed that there was an investigation, which was disclosed in the bank’s annual report published last week. He said the bank could not comment further.

“ING Bank is the subject of criminal investigations by Dutch authorities regarding various requirements related to the on-boarding of clients, money laundering, and corrupt practices,” the statement in the annual report said.

Five years ago, in a separate case, the U.S. office of Foreign Assets Control ordered ING bank to pay $619 million after the Dutch lender was found to have breached trade sanction rules.

ING Groep’s shares were over 4.4 percent lower in early-afternoon trade on Wednesday.