Santander Hit With $132M Fine for AML Failures


The FCA has fined Santander over 107.7 million pounds ($132.2 million) for AML failures.

In announcing the penalty, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said Santander “failed to properly oversee and manage” its anti-money laundering (AML) systems between Dec. 31, 2012 and Oct. 18, 2017.

“Santander had ineffective systems to adequately verify the information provided by customers about the business they would be doing,” the FCA said in a Friday (Dec. 9) press release. “The firm also failed to properly monitor the money customers had told them would be going through their accounts compared with what actually was being deposited.”

In one case the FCA cites, a new customer opened a small business, declaring expected monthly deposits of 5,000 pounds ($6,137). Within six months, however, the account was receiving millions in deposits and transferring the money to separate accounts.

Although the account was recommended for closure by the bank’s AML team in March 2014, “poor processes and structures” meant that this was not acted upon until September 2015, the FCA stated.

Across multiple money laundering cases, the regulator said that Santander’s failures led to more than 298 million pounds in suspicious transactions passing through the bank that could have been prevented with swifter action to close accounts.

“Santander’s poor management of their anti-money laundering systems and their inadequate attempts to address the problems created a prolonged and severe risk of money laundering and financial crime,” FCA Executive Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight Mark Steward said in the release.

Santander has not disputed the FCA’s findings, entitling the bank to a 30% discount on the fine, which would have been nearly 154 million pounds ($189 million) otherwise.

Some of the U.K.’s banks have been involved in several money laundering scandals in recent years.

In one notorious example, NatWest was implicated in the case of Fowler Oldfield, a jewelry business that deposited 264 million pounds in cash with the bank between 2014 and 2016. In that case, the FCA fined NatWest 264.8 million pounds.

See more: UK Bank NatWest Pleads Guilty in Money Laundering Case

Last year, HSBC was fined nearly 64 million pounds ($78.6 million) for AML failings.

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