NatWest pleads guilty in money laundering case

NatWest said on Thursday it has pleaded guilty to three offences of money laundering between 2012 and 2016 “in relation to the accounts of a UK incorporated customer.”

The case relates to £365 million deposited into the account of Bradford jeweler Fowler Oldfield between 2012 and 2016.

Fowler Oldfield was shut down following a police raid in 2016.

NatWest said the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has confirmed it will not take action against any individual current or former employee of NatWest.

NatWest also said it is not aware of, and is not anticipating, any other authority investigating its conduct in this matter.

“The facts of the case are complex, the likely sentence is a very large fine,” Clare Montgomery, a lawyer for the FCA, told Westminster Magistrates’ Court.

NatWest could face a potential penalty of around £340 million, Montgomery told the court.

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.

“In the years since this case, we have invested significant resources and continue to enhance our efforts to effectively combat financial crime.”

In a stock exchange statement, NatWest said: “National Westminster Bank Plc has today pleaded guilty to three offences under regulation 45(1) of the Money Laundering Regulations 2007 (MLR 2007) for failure to comply with regulation 8(1) of the MLR 2007 between 7 November 2013 and 23 June 2016 and 8(3) and 14(1) of the MLR 2007 between 8 November 2012 and 23 June 2016 in relation to the accounts of a UK incorporated customer.

“These regulations required the firm to determine and conduct risk sensitive ongoing monitoring of its customers for the purposes of preventing money laundering.

“The offences relate to operational weaknesses between 2012 and 2016 which meant that NatWest did not adequately monitor the accounts of that customer.

“NatWest has cooperated fully with the FCA since its investigation began.

“The FCA has confirmed it will not take action against any individual current or former employee of NatWest.

“NatWest is not aware of, and is not anticipating, any other authority investigating its conduct in this matter.

The case has been remitted to the Crown Court for sentencing which will be determined at a subsequent hearing, expected to be in four to eight weeks’ time.

“A provision will be made in NatWest’s Q3 2021 financial accounts in anticipation of a potential fine being imposed at that hearing.

Financial crime continues to evolve, whether through fraud, scams, cyber-attacks or other criminal activity.

“NatWest continues to make significant, multi-year investments to strengthen and improve its overall financial crime control framework with prevention systems and capabilities.”

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