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Natwest pleads guilty to money laundering offences

Written by: Shekina Tuahene
Natwest has plead guilty to three offences which breached money laundering regulations between 2012 and 2016.

The offences are in relation to deposits of £365m made into the bank accounts of one of its UK customers. The bank accepts that it failed to comply with regulations which required it to determine and carry out ongoing monitoring of its customers to prevent money laundering. 

The case has been referred to the Southwark Crown Court for sentencing. This will be the first criminal prosecution under money laundering regulations since legislation was introduced in 2007. 

The sentencing is expected to take place in four to eight weeks’ time. Natwest said a provision will be made in its quarter three financial accounts this year in anticipation of a potential fine. 

The bank said it cooperated with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) during its investigation and was not aware of or expecting any other authority to investigate its conduct for the breaches. 

The FCA began its criminal investigation in March in relation to “increasingly large cash deposits” made into the customer’s bank accounts. Of the £365m which was paid into the customer’s accounts, around £264m was in cash.  

The regulator confirmed no action would be taken out against any individual currently or formerly employed by the bank. 

NatWest CEO, Alison Rose, said: “We deeply regret that NatWest failed to adequately monitor and therefore prevent money laundering by one of our customers between 2012 and 2016.  

“NatWest has a vital part to play in detecting and preventing financial crime and we take extremely seriously our responsibility to prevent money laundering by third parties.” 

She added: “In the years since this case, we have invested significant resources and continue to enhance our efforts to effectively combat financial crime. We work tirelessly with colleagues, other banks, industry bodies, law enforcement, regulators, and governments to help find collaborative solutions to this shared challenge.  

“These partnerships are crucial to counter the significant and evolving threat of financial crime to society.” 

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