The New York State Banking Department imposed a $500,000 fine on 15 affiliated check cashing companies Thursday. It is the largest fine ever levied by the department, which licenses check cashers.

Acting Superintendent of Banks Elizabeth McCaul said the companies, all owned or controlled by Leonard Socol, hid liquidity problems from the agency.

"Examiners identified inaccurate and misleading entries to each of the entities' books that had the effect of concealing the deficiencies," according to the agency.

"The amount of the fine sends a clear message to the industry that books and records must be maintained accurately and that fraudulent behavior will not be tolerated," Ms. McCaul said.

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