WASHINGTON — Regulators slapped Pamrapo Savings Bank with a $5 million penalty on Monday after the bank didn't take steps to meet federal rules aimed at preventing money laundering.

The Office of Thrift Supervision said Bayonne, N.J.-based Pamrapo had previously been identified by regulators as having "ineffective programs to prevent money laundering" and file required reports with federal agencies. The bank, whose holding company is Pamrapo Bancorp Inc. (PBCI), had been subject to a cease-and-desist order with the OTS since September 2008.

"Even during an economic downturn, institutions must remain focused on complying with important laws and regulations to ensure that criminals do not use our nation's financial system for their illicit enterprises," OTS Acting Director John E. Bowman said in a statement.

U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman, in a statement released by the Department of Justice, said the bank's "repeated and blatant violations" of federal laws helped shield criminals from law enforcement agencies.

"Pamrapo Savings Bank's blatant disregard for the Bank Secrecy Act reporting requirement rules removed that layer of defense, making it more difficult to identify, detect and deter these types of criminals," said William Offord, special agent in charge from the Internal Revenue Service, in the statement.

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