ATWEST pleaded guilty to three accounts of money laundering today and can expect hefty fines from watchdogs willing to take action against the crime.
The bank, formerly the Royal Bank of Scotland, admitted that it had failed to comply with regulations over a four-year period between November 2012 and June 2016.
It’s a blow to Alison Rose, the new chief executive, who is trying to restart the bank, which was broken up under the leadership of Fred “The Shred” Goodwin and had to be bailed out by the taxpayer. .
The fine could be several hundred million pounds, the largest ever FCA’s fine. The bank admitted to allegations that it failed to prevent money laundering on an English gold merchant. The lender took £365 million in deposits over five years, while the gold dealer indicated an annual revenue of only £15 million per year.
Watchdogs around the world are issuing tougher penalties for money laundering, a crime they fear is spiraling out of control.
In August, a report by risk consultancy Kroll found that authorities had imposed a $1 billion anti-money laundering fine in the first six months of 2021.
The Financial Conduct Authority, City Watchdog, will be eager to send a signal that enforcement is a top priority and that failures will be punished.
Rose said: “We deeply regret that NatWest failed to adequately monitor and therefore prevent money laundering by one of our customers between 2012 and 2016. NatWest’s critical role in detecting and preventing financial crime and we take very seriously our responsibility to prevent money laundering by third parties.”
NatWest said it cooperated with the regulator and said it did not expect other executives to be involved.
The case will go to Crown Court for sentencing in four to eight weeks’ time. No NatWest employees are expected to be charged.
FCA lawyers say the fine could be up to £340 million.
The bank notes that it has more than 5,000 employees in financial crime roles, dedicated to preventing scams, cyber attacks and money laundering.
Rose said: “In the years since this case, we have invested significant resources and continued our efforts to effectively tackle financial crime. We look forward to helping partners find collaborative solutions to this shared challenge.” , working tirelessly with other banks, industry bodies, law enforcement, regulators and governments. These partnerships are critical to combating the significant and emerging threat of financial crime to society.”
Earlier this year, digital lender Monzo revealed that it was being investigated by the FCA over potential money laundering failures.
Dutch lender ABN AMRO previously inked $480 million with prosecutors