Authorities announced almost $3 million will be disbursed to several South Florida agencies as the result of a Wachovia money laundering case.
Broward County Sheriff Al Lamberti said the money will be divided among several Broward municipalities and police departments, each of which will receive about $140,000.
“When you can take assets like these from bad guys, it really, really helps the people we are serving,” he said.
In 2010, the bank agreed to pay a $160 million settlement for failing to maintain an anti-money laundering program, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Cliff Lockwood, the supervisor of the money laundering unit, said the money was tracked from shipments of cocaine to Mexican money exchange businesses, called casas de cambios. The money would then be repatriated back into the United States.
“Having that corresponding banking relationship with the various casas de cambios was very profitable for Wachovia,” he said. “Needless to say, in the banking industry we have regulations. You’re supposed to know your customers, and that is one area they could have done a lot better on.”
Lamberti said the criminals were white-collar bankers who turned a blind eye to money laundering.
“I’ve always said, the best part of this job is when you can take money from bad guys and give it to good guys,” Lamberti said.
Several cities, including Deerfield Beach, Oakland Park and Cooper City, said they would use the money for equipment and resource officers at schools. Pembroke Pines Police said the money will be used for a new training facility, and the Broward Sheriff's Office will put the money into a trust fund for future projects.