National Westminster Bank Plc (“NatWest”) has today been fined £264.8m at a hearing at Southwark Crown Court for three offences under regulation 45(1) of the Money Laundering Regulations 2007, admitted on 7 October 2021.
The offences related to operational weaknesses between 2012 and 2016, which meant that NatWest did not adequately monitor the accounts of a UK incorporated customer.
The fine, which includes a 33% discount for the bank’s early guilty plea will be met from existing provisions, with a small additional provision to be taken in NatWest’s Q4 2021 financial accounts.
Today’s hearing brings an end to the case against NatWest and the FCA has confirmed that, provided no further evidence comes to light, it will not take action against any individual current or former employee of NatWest in respect of this case. NatWest is not aware of, and is not anticipating, any other authority investigating its conduct in this matter.
NatWest CEO, Alison Rose, said:
“NatWest takes its responsibility to prevent and detect 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.”
Notes to Editors
Overview of the prosecution of National Westminster Bank Plc by the Financial Conduct Authority under the Money Laundering Regulations 2007
The purpose of the Money Laundering Regulations 2007 (“MLR 2007”) is to ensure firms take all reasonable steps to prevent the use of the financial system for money laundering purposes.
On 16 March 2021, the Financial Conduct Authority confirmed it had commenced criminal proceedings against NatWest in relation to offences under regulation 45(1) of the MLR 2007 for failure to comply with regulation 8(1) of the MLR 2007 between 7 November 2013 and 23 June 2016 and 8(3) and 14(1) of the MLR 2007 between 8 November 2012 and 23 June 2016 in relation to the accounts of a UK incorporated customer.
These regulations require the firm to determine and conduct risk sensitive ongoing monitoring of its customers for the purposes of preventing money laundering.
NatWest cooperated fully with the FCA since its investigation began. In pleading guilty, NatWest acknowledged relevant operational failures in relation to a UK incorporated customer’s accounts between 2012 and 2016. This included weaknesses in some of the bank’s automated systems as well as certain shortcomings in adherence to monitoring and investigations procedures.
Financial crime continues to evolve, whether through fraud, scams, cyber-attacks or other criminal activity. NatWest continues to make significant, multi-year investments to strengthen and improve its overall financial crime control framework, prevention systems and capabilities. The bank has invested almost £700m in the last five years including upgrades to transaction monitoring systems, automated customer screening and new customer due diligence solutions.
NatWest currently has more than 5,000 staff in specialist financial crime roles, dedicated to detecting and preventing financial crime under the leadership and focus of a centralised, bank-wide ‘FinCrime Hub’. It brings together into one place all the first line of defence teams working on financial crime activities across the bank to deliver robust and effective controls, expertise and culture to detect and prevent financial crime.
As part of its ongoing programme of investment in its people, processes and technology, NatWest’s financial plans already include over £1bn to further strengthen financial crime controls over the next five years, including investment in new technologies and capabilities to further enhance Customer Due Diligence, Transaction Monitoring, Sanctions and Anti-Bribery and Corruption systems.
We work with industry bodies, law enforcement, regulators and government to tackle and reduce financial crime. These partnerships include the Joint Money Laundering Intelligence Taskforce, Joint Fraud Taskforce, various Transparency International Groups, and other working parties.