"BTMU's conduct concealed the involvement of U.S. sanctions targets and displayed reckless disregard for U.S. sanctions; the general manager of the Operations Center in Tokyo knew or had reason to know that procedures had been implemented instructing employees to manipulate payment instruction," OFAC said in the settlement.

The regulator said its settlement with Bank of Tokyo reflected the firm's remediation efforts on poor controls, its cooperation with regulators and its previous history of complying with the law.

According to Times report, New York state DFS Superintendent Benjamin Lawsky may take a far harsher stance against Bank of Tokyo. In August, Lawsky settled similar allegations of illicit payments with Standard Chartered for $340 million.

Lawsky appears intent to use the power of the New York DFS to enforce banking industry law and regulation.

The regulator is able to enforce conduct of banks with operations in the state of New York, and consequently, has a big influence on Wall Street.

Earlier in June, Lawsky and New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo ( alleged a handful of insurance giants including MetLife ( MET) and Prudential ( PRU) had created so-called 'shadow insurance' to the tune of $50 billion in the state.

-- Written by Antoine Gara

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