Money laundering fine of £265 million imposed on NatWest – Comment

Today at London’s Southwark Crown Court, NatWest has been fined £265 million having entered guilty pleas in October to criminal charges brought by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) under the Money Laundering Regulations 2007 (MLR 2007).

Aziz Rahman, Senior Partner and specialist fraud lawyer at Rahman Ravelli, comments: “Today’s fine, while eyewatering for NatWest, is a clear and large reminder of the price that has to be paid if a corporate is found to have failed to meet its money laundering obligations. The ripples from this are likely to be felt far and wide across the financial world. The shock waves could be as far-reaching as those that came out of the Danske Bank scandal.

“The fact that the FCA has brought a criminal prosecution rather than imposing regulatory sanctions indicates just how serious these failings where. This is a bank that is steeped in history and is now government-owned – and yet it has allowed money laundering to go ahead on a massive scale under its nose.

“The case shows that the FCA is prepared to be more aggressive when it feels that it has to be. It is also a notable example of the regulator doing the prosecutor’s job. Other financial institutions will need to ensure they are not next in line for such a costly rap across the knuckles.

“Time will tell whether this was an isolated incident or a high-profile indicator of more deep-seated money laundering problems. But the financial sector has to see the NatWest case as a headline-grabbing reminder of the importance of complying with money laundering obligations.

“NatWest’s large-scale failings have brought it masses of attention for all the wrong reasons. It now has to ensure that such failings are consigned to history.’’