Detecting and preventing financial crime

Our purpose, our ambition

NatWest Group champions potential, helping people, families, and businesses to thrive. We understand that relationships are deeper than transactions. We live and work in the same streets, towns, and communities as our customers. We understand the challenges they are facing. This is never truer than when it comes to financial crime and its consequences. 

Whether it’s fraud, money laundering, corruption, the drugs trade or human trafficking, financial crime is a formidable issue for everyone in society. The total cost has been estimated in the trillions of pounds, and the human cost can be devastating.

At NatWest Group we recognise the important role we have to play to detect and prevent financial crime, protecting people, families, and businesses. We are a gatekeeper of the financial system. Every day, acts of financial crime put our customers and society at risk. We fully understand this and are committed to preventing the products and services we provide from being used to facilitate and commit crime. Our ambition is to help reduce crime across society by making the financial system an environment that criminals are unable to exploit for their malicious aims.

What is NatWest Group doing to fight financial crime?

Prevention and detection are a key defence against financial crime. At NatWest Group, we run processes, technologies, and systems that help us know our customers, suppliers and third parties. We work to understand sources of wealth and sources of funds to reduce the risk that illicit proceeds can enter our bank and as a result, the financial system.

We monitor payments and transactions, so we protect customers, society, and the Group. And when needed, we stop payments and close accounts and relationships where activity is suspicious or cannot be appropriately explained.

We have a committed investment and funding plan to support this. We continue to invest in anti-money laundering systems and controls. And we continue to enhance the policies, processes and systems used to combat the continuously evolving threat of financial crime.

The role of Natwest Group employees

Detecting and preventing financial crime is everyone’s job at NatWest Group. We run annual training for all colleagues, and we target additional training for those in specialist roles. Today, we have over 5,000 colleagues dedicated to detecting and preventing financial crime and fraud.

What this means for our customers and relationships

We need to know our customers so we can protect them from financial crime. We continue to work with customers and third party relationships to ensure the information we have about them is up to date, accurate and complete. 

We are running a number of initiatives to make sure that the information we have about our customers is correct. This involves significant contact with customers and requests for information. Although we will never ask for full security credentials. This enables customers to keep their data safe, protecting themselves from financial crime and fraud. If we are unable to get the right, up to date information, regrettably it means we need to either reduce our services or sometimes close accounts.

Working with partners and law enforcement

We recognise that we cannot tackle and reduce financial crime in isolation. We work collectively with industry bodies, law enforcement, regulators, and governments. These partnerships are crucial to our ambition to reduce crime across society. NatWest Group is an active participant in public and private sector initiatives to tackle financial crime and thereby supporting enterprise and individuals to thrive and be safe. These include the Joint Money Laundering Intelligence Taskforce and various UK Finance groups. 

Governance and transformation

Changes in crime trends, new technologies, the economy and wider society also mean the risks relating to financial crime are always changing. Building on our extensive work to date to tackle financial crime, in 2020 we began a multi-year transformation plan to address the ever-changing threat, with a new bank wide approach, and we set up new executive governance to provide oversight of the plans and their implementation. These plans include ongoing significant investment in technology, process and systems, the training of our colleagues, and a one bank approach, all with the aim of protecting people, families, and businesses.

Response to FCA 2021 prosecution - further materials and downloads

National Westminster Bank Plc (“NatWest”) has been fined £264.8m on 13 December 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.

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