NatWest AML failures - What went wrong?
On the 7th of October 2021, NatWest Bank entered guilty pleas at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London to criminal charges brought by the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority under the Money Laundering Regulations 2007. This is the first criminal prosecution that the FCA has brought under this regulation and the bank was subsequently sentenced on the 13th December 2021 to a fine of over £264m.
These charges relate to NatWest’s failure to properly monitor the activity of a commercial customer, a jewellery business based in Bradford, where between 2012-2016 approximately £365m was deposited with the bank, of which around £264m was in cash.
In this report, we look in detail at a catalogue of AML failures – from the bank’s failing to conduct ongoing monitoring of a business relationship and an erroneous risk rating through to weaknesses in the bank’s automatic transaction monitoring system and ultimately failures to respond to alerts and reports.