Citibank Agrees to Pay $323,000 Fine for Allegedly Violating U.S. Anti-boycott Laws

The Commerce Department announced yesterday that Citibank, one of the nation’s largest banks, had agreed to pay a fine of $323,000 to settle charges that the bank had violated export laws banning American firms from cooperating with the Arab boycott of Israel.

Assistant Commerce Secretary Lawrence Brady said the fine isthe largest civil penalty yet imposed on American firms for alleged failure to report promptly receipt of requests to comply with the boycott.

Brady reported that the FMC Corp. of Chicago had also settled anti-boycott charges and agreed to pay an $8,500 fine. Citibank and FMC Corp, neither admitted nor denied the allegations in agreeing to pay fines in settlement of the department’s charges.

But both firms agreed to take “corrective measures” to insure future compliance by branch offices and to report those measures within six months, Brady said. The federal anti-boycott provisions are contained in the Export Administration Act.

The Commerce Department said that Citibank and FMC Corp. had failed to comply with an anti-boycott provision requirement they must report requests to back the Arab boycott.

Brady said Citibank had failed to report promptly that it received 337 boycott-related requests from Kuwait, Oman and Abu Dhabi for three years starting in January, 1980, Brady said Citibank was accused only of failing to report the requests, not of complying with them.

A Citibank spokesperson said that if any violations had occurred, they were “inadvertent or unintentional processing errors” and that Citibank chose to make the agreement because “any further litigation would have been excessively costly for Citibank and the Government.”

Brady said that FMC, which makes machinery, chemicals and power transmission equipment, failed to report II requests for information from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Bahiain and Abu Dhabi.

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