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NATWEST has admitted its guilt on three counts of failing to properly monitor the £365 million deposited into a customer’s account.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said NatWest failed to adhere to the requirements of anti-money laundering legislation in relation to Fowler Oldfield Ltd’s account between November 7 2013 and June 23 2016.
Fowler Oldfield was a century-old jeweller based in Bradford. It was shut down following a police raid in 2016.
It is the first time that a financial institution has faced criminal prosecution under anti-money laundering laws in Britain.
NatWest now faces a fine of up to £340m.
Chief executive Alison Rose said the bank deeply regrets failing to adequately monitor, and therefore prevent, money laundering.
She said: “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.”
Campaigners for banking reform have said banks such as NatWest should be brought into line, calling for different models of ownership, geared towards long-term investment in quality green jobs and infrastructure.
Advocacy group Positive Money told the Star that banks were given a free pass after crashing the economy in 2008.
Head of policy Simon Youel said: “The City of London increasingly resembles a huge Square Mile crime den. NatWest’s money laundering is by no means one bad apple spoiling the barrel — it’s just the latest in a long line of scandals from Britain’s crooked banking system.
“The government had a brilliant opportunity to use public ownership of NatWest to turn it into a socially responsible bank which served the public interest, but ministers have instead chosen to squander it and sell it off to their mates on the cheap.”
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