NatWest faces criminal case over money laundering rules

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has launched criminal proceedings against NatWest, alleging that the bank failed to comply with money laundering regulations.

The allegations date back to between 2011 and 2016.

In order to help prevent money laundering, financial services firms in the UK are required to conduct risk sensitive due diligence and ongoing monitoring of their relationships with customers. These regulations apply to a number of different businesses, including banks and building societies, accountants, estate agents and solicitors.

The case concerns the handling of funds deposited into accounts operated by a UK incorporated customer of NatWest. The City watchdog alleges that increasingly large cash deposits were made into the customer’s accounts. Around £365m was allegedly paid into the customer’s accounts, of which around £264m was in cash.

The FCA alleges that NatWest’s systems and controls failed to adequately monitor and scrutinise this activity.

This is the first criminal prosecution under the Money Laundering Regulations 2007 by the FCA and the first time a bank has faced any prosecution under the rules.

No individuals are being charged as part of the proceedings.

NatWest is scheduled to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 14 April 2021.