NatWest has announced it could face a fine of up to GBP 340 million after it pleaded guilty to three charges failing to comply with money laundering regulations between 2012 and 2016.
The case marks the UK Financial Conduct Authority’s first criminal prosecution under 2007 anti-money laundering rules, and the first against a bank.
A judge will determine the exact amount of the penalty in December, when the bank is sentenced. NatWest’s cooperation and guilty plea could reduce the fine.
The FCA alleged NatWest insufficiently monitored activity by jewelry wholesaler Fowler Oldfield, which deposited GBP 365 million in the bank between 2011, when it became a customer, and 2016, when the business was shut down after a 2016 police raid uncovered what was called ‘an extremely sophisticated’ money laundering operation.
To that end, NatWest said it has invested nearly GBP 700 million since 2016 to upgrade its transaction monitoring systems, automated customer screening and client due diligence, and planned to spend GBP 1 billion more by 2026.