Ex-Sparks Nugget fined $1M for money-laundering violations | NevadaAppeal.com

Ex-Sparks Nugget fined $1M for money-laundering violations

The Associated Press

SPARKS — The former Sparks Nugget has agreed to pay a $1 million civil fine after the northern Nevada hotel-casino admitted violating federal anti-money laundering regulations before it first was sold in 2013, U.S. regulators said Tuesday.

The U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) announced the civil penalty for the hotel-casino company that did business as John Ascuaga’s Nugget.

Agency Director Jennifer Shasky Calvery said the Sparks Nugget egregiously and willfully violated the Bank Secrecy Act’s reporting obligations, anti-money laundering and record-keeping requirements.

Calvery says company officials were aware they hosted convicted embezzlers and had been alerted to suspicious transactions by their own compliance manager, but they disregarded the warnings.

“Sparks Nugget had a systemic breakdown in its compliance program,” Calvery said.

The federal probe disclosed in February prompted the resignation of Nevada Gaming Control Commissioner Michonne Ascuaga, who was CEO of the property built by her father, John Ascuaga, from 1997 until its sale in 2013.

The Ascuaga family said in a statement Tuesday they were pleased to reach the settlement agreement with the Treasury Department.

“As members of the northern Nevada business community for over 60 years, we have always strived to operate with integrity and decency. That being said, we understand the seriousness of the FinCEN assessment and are satisfied that this matter has been resolved,” they said in the statement released by their lawyer.

Wolfhound Holdings, a private investment group, bought the Sparks Nugget in 2013 and leased it to Global Gaming & Hospitality, a management company. The southern Nevada-based Marnell Gaming LLC announced in February it had reached an agreement to acquire the property.