NatWest facing £340m fine after historic money laundering prosecution

7 October 2021, 15:20

NatWest is the first financial institution in the UK to face prosecution under money laundering laws
NatWest is the first financial institution in the UK to face prosecution under money laundering laws. Picture: Getty

By James Morris

NatWest is facing a fine of up to £340m after admitting failure to prevent alleged money laundering.

The bank admitted three counts of failing to properly monitor £365m deposited into a customer's account.

It’s the first time a financial institution has faced criminal prosecution under anti-money laundering laws in the UK.

The case related to Fowler Oldfield, a century-old jeweller based in Bradford which was shut down following a police raid in 2016.

Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) prosecutor Clare Montgomery told Westminster Magistrates’ Court that when Fowler Oldfield was taken on as a client by NatWest, its predicted turnover was said to be £15m per annum.

However, it deposited £365m over the space of almost five years – with £264m in cash.

'Poorer areas could have even larger rises in council tax.'

She said that at its height, Fowler Oldfield deposited up to £1.8m a day.

NatWest chief executive 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.”

Read more: Boris Johnson faces backlash over ‘economically illiterate’ conference speech

Ms Rose added the bank has invested “significant resources” to combat financial crime in the five years since.

On the potential fine facing NatWest, Ms Montgomery said: "The appropriate harm figure is going to be around £170m, with a multiplier of 200%." This would mean £340m.

A sentencing hearing, in which a judge will decide the final figure, will take place at Southwark Crown Court on or before 8 December.

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