NatWest hit with £264.8m fine from FCA for money laundering failures
UK banking giant NatWest has been fined £264.8 million for breaching money laundering regulations.
The case, brought by the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), related to the failure to properly monitor the accounts of a UK incorporated customer between 2012 and 2016.
Over this period, NatWest handled suspicious funds deposited into accounts operated by jeweller Fowler Oldfield.
Increasingly large cash deposits were made into the customer’s accounts during the period in question.
The FCA commenced criminal proceedings against NatWest on 16 March over three offences under the Money Laundering Regulations Act 2007, designed to ensure firms take all reasonable steps to prevent the use of the financial system for money laundering purposes.
NatWest plead guilty to the charges in October, becoming the first British bank to admit to an offence of this type.
The fine includes a 33% discount thanks to the bank’s early guilty plea.
Mark Steward, executive director of enforcement and market oversight at the FCA, says: “NatWest is responsible for a catalogue of failures in the way it monitored and scrutinised transactions that were self-evidently suspicious. Combined with serious systems failures, like the treatment of cash deposits as cheques, these failures created an open door for money laundering.”
NatWest CEO Alison Rose says the bank takes preventing and detecting financial crime “extremely seriously”.
“We deeply regret that we failed to adequately monitor one of our customers between 2012 and 2016 for the purpose of preventing money laundering. While today’s hearing brings an end to this case, we will continue to invest significant resources in the ongoing fight against financial crime,” she adds.
NatWest says it cooperated fully with the FCA and acknowledges weaknesses in some of the bank’s automated systems as well as certain shortcomings in its adherence to monitoring and investigations procedures.
The bank adds it continues to make investments in preventing financial crime, with £700 million already spent in the last five years and a further £1 billion pledged over the next five years.