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December 2021 and the x3 banks on the expensive naughty step [£374.5m fines]


NatWest suffered the indignity of a £264M PENALTY AND CRIMINAL CONVICTION for money-laundering failures. And they take the prize for the most spectacular collapse we’ve seen in years in a bank’s controls department. The saga, almost unbelievably, involved black bin bags stuffed with as much as £700,000 getting through their control systems.

But then HSBC was hit with A £64M PENALTY from the Financial Conduct Authority for “serious weaknesses” in anti-money laundering processes. The FCA found ‘serious weaknesses’ in systems used to monitor possible criminal activity in transactions. For example, in 2011, HSBC realised that the system had automatically rejected every report of suspicious activity from customers in the entire Welsh nation – meaning 1,780 red flags had been missed.

And then Standard Chartered, the Asian-focused but London-listed bank, hit with a £46.5M FINE from the Bank of England’s Prudential Regulation Authority. It’s a thumping penalty in its own right – the biggest imposed by the PRA acting in a solo capacity – and, beyond the dry technicalities of US dollar liquidity reporting requirements, one can understand why the regulator is annoyed. According to the PRA, the problem wasn’t just the size of Standard Chartered’s spreadsheet errors, which in one case amounted to $10bn. It was also the fact that the bank seems to have taken a relaxed view of its obligation to report material mistakes promptly. The delay was four months in one instance.