NatWest could face £340m fine following money laundering neglect

NatWest has pleaded guilty to money laundering failings amounting to £365m from UK-based jeweller Fowler Oldfield.

This guilty charge makes NatWest the first British bank to admit to an offence of this type and will is the first bank to face criminal proceedings under the UK’s 2007 Money Laundering Regulations.

NatWest admitted guilt to three specific criminal charges of not properly monitoring customer accounts between 2012 and 2016. For almost five years, the bank handled suspicious funds deposited into accounts operated by Fowler Oldfield, with increasingly large cash deposits made between the aforementioned years.

It was found that between 2012 and 2016, the account received £365m in deposits with £264m of that figure in cash. The Financial Conduct Authority notified NatWest of its investigation into Fowler Oldfield in 2017 – with the company shutting down in 2016 – and the bank claims it has been cooperating with the regulator since then.

NatWest could face a fine of up to £340m, with a sentencing hearing anticipated to take place in December this year. According to the FCA, it isn’t planning to strip NatWest of any of its licences following the admission of guilt.

NatWest CEO Alison Rose said, “We deeply regret that NatWest failed to adequately monitor and therefore prevent money laundering by one of our customers.”

It was recently revealed that digital bank Monzo is being investigated by the FCA over potential breaches of financial crime and money laundering regulations.

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