Financial Conduct Authority  

Natwest pleads guilty to money laundering failures

Natwest pleads guilty to money laundering failures

Natwest has pleaded guilty to criminal charges brought by the Financial Conduct Authority in relation to money laundering. 

At a hearing at Westminster Magistrates’ Court today (October 7) Natwest accepted it had failed to comply with the Money Laundering Regulations 2007. 

The bank now faces a fine from the regulator. 

This was the first criminal prosecution under the Money Laundering Regulations 2007 brought by the FCA. 

The plea related to failings between November 7, 2013 and June 23, 2016 and November 8, 2012 and June 23, 2016 in relation to the accounts of a UK incorporated customer.

Natwest failed to have adequate systems and controls in place to prevent money laundering of almost £400m by that customer. 

No individuals have been charged as part of these proceedings.

The case has now been referred to Southwark Crown Court for sentencing.

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 said in the years since the case, the bank has invested significant resources and continues to enhance its 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."

The bank said it has invested almost £700m in the past five years including in upgrades to transaction monitoring systems, automated customer screening and new customer due diligence solutions.

It has more than 5,000 staff in specialist financial crime roles and plans to invest a further £1bn to strengthen financial crime controls over the next five years. 

The Money Laundering Regulations 2007 came into force in December 2007 and form part of the UK’s legislative framework designed to prevent the use of the financial system for the purpose of money laundering and terrorist financing.  

They were superseded by the Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds (Information on the Payer) Regulations 2017.

carmen.reichman@ft.com