Western Union has been fined $60m by the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS) for breaching anti-money laundering laws (AML) and failing to report suspicious transactions made to China between 2004 and 2012.

The regulator accused that the firm failed to implement an anti-money laundering compliance programme to deter and detect use of its electronic network by criminals.

At the same time, the company’s senior executives and managers were accused of willfully ignoring improper conduct by agents and suspicious transactions to the company’s China branches by high-volume agents in New York’s Lower Manhattan, Sunset Park, and Flushing location.

Some of the transactions conducted by the New York agents facilitated human trafficking, the watchdog said.

DFS superintendent Vullo said: “Western Union executives put profits ahead of the company’s responsibilities to detect and prevent money laundering and fraud, by choosing to maintain relationships with and failing to discipline obviously suspect, but highly profitable, agents.

“DFS will not tolerate unlawful activity that undermines anti-money laundering laws and endangers the integrity of our financial system.”

As part of the settlement, the company will have to submit a written plan to the regulator within 90 days to ensure the adequacy of its anti-money laundering initiatives, and submit a written progress report detailing its actions.