FCA Begins Proceedings Against NatWest for Alleged Money Laundering

The case is the first to be prosecuted under the UK’s Money Laundering Regulations 2007, though no individuals are being charged.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has launched criminal proceedings against NatWest bank over its alleged breaching of money laundering regulations.

In a statement on Tuesday, the FCA said the case was sparked by the detection of “increasingly large cash deposits” being made into a UK account, which it alleged that NatWest’s systems failed to adequately scrutinise. Around £368 million was paid into the account, including £264 million in cash.

This case marks the first prosecution to be brought under the UK’s Money Laundering Regulations 2007 and the first against a bank. Charges are being brought under regulation 45 of the regulations, which requires firms to maintain adequate anti-money laundering controls and to take “all reasonable steps to prevent their use for money laundering purposes”.

The allegations date back to between 2011 and 2016, with the FCA having begun its investigation in 2017. The bank has been aware of their probe since then.

“NatWest Group has been co-operating with the FCA’s investigation to date,” a spokesperson for the bank said in a statement. “NatWest Group takes extremely seriously its responsibility to seek to prevent money laundering by third parties and accordingly has made significant, multi-year investments in its financial crime systems and controls.”

NatWest is a subsidiary of the NatWest Group and is 62% taxpayer-owned following its government bailout in the 2008 financial crisis. Its shares were down 1% in early trading following the news of the FCA’s legal action.

The FCA also said that it was conducting separate investigations into other firms under the Money Laundering Regulations 2007. No organisations have yet been named as the subjects of these probes.

NatWest is scheduled to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 14 April. No individuals are being charged as part of the proceedings.

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