NATWEST - THE FCA initiate the first criminal prosecution under the money laundering regulations
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has started criminal proceedings against NatWest over allegedly failing to comply with money laundering rules.
Fines could easily run into the many tens of millions, and the Senior Managers and Certification Regime can exact heavy financial or even custodial sentences on managers who the FCA thinks should have known what was happening under their noses, even if they didn't.
The City watchdog claims "increasingly large cash deposits" were made into a UK account, alleging around £365m was paid in, including £264m in cash.
It alleges that NatWest's systems and controls failed to adequately monitor and scrutinise this activity.
NatWest said it had been co-operating with the FCA.
In a statement, NatWest said it:
- "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".
No individuals are being charged as part of the proceedings. The FCA said the case marked the first criminal prosecution under the money laundering regulations and the first against a bank.
The allegations date back to between 2011 and 2016. The FCA started investigating in 2017, and NatWest has been aware of the probe since then.
NatWest is scheduled to appear at Westminster Magistrates' Court on 14 April.
The BBC understands that the allegations that NatWest failed to adequately guard against money laundering are in connection with a money service business. That would fit the profile of a company that processes huge amounts of cash.