In the US, civil and criminal penalties may be imposed against a financial institution, or any of its officers, directors, and employees.  Penalties pursuant to a BSA civil action vary significantly based on the type of violation and the enforcement authority.1  The maximum BSA-related criminal penalty is $250,000 and up to five years’ imprisonment.  However, if the violation is part of a pattern of conduct involving more than $100,000 over a 12-month period and involves the violation of another US criminal law, the penalty increases to $500,000 and up to 10 years’ imprisonment.2

The maximum BSA-related civil penalty can vary significantly.  For example, federal banking regulators have the authority to impose penalties from $5,000 per violation to $1,000,000, or 1% of the assets of a financial institution, whichever is greater, for every day that the violation occurs.3  Other federal regulators and self-regulatory organizations have independent civil penalty authorities.  Penalties are primarily assessed for AML compliance program deficiencies, failures to file SARs, or in combination with other BSA violations.


A person convicted of a substantive money laundering offense under POCA could receive a sentence of up to 14 years’ imprisonment, or a fine, or both.  Definitive guidance is provided by the Sentencing Council regarding sentencing in substantive money laundering cases (see here).  A person in the regulated sector convicted of the offense of failure to report suspicious activity could receive a sentence of up to five years’ imprisonment, or a fine, or both.


In France, the penalties attached to money laundering are for individuals, five years’ imprisonment and a fine of EUR 375,000, or 10 years’ imprisonment and a fine of EUR 750,000, in the case of aggravating circumstances (Art. 324-2 of the French Criminal Code), when committed on a regular basis or using the facilities afforded by an individual’s professional activity, or in an organized gang. The fines above can be increased by up to half the value of the goods or funds laundered (Art. 324-3 of the French Criminal Code).

Legal entities face a fine of five times the maximum fine for individuals (i.e., EUR 1,875,000 to EUR 37,500,000) (Art. 324-9 of the French Criminal Code).

1 31 CFR § 1010.920. 

2 31 USC § 5322.

3 12 USC § 1818(i). 

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