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The Nationwide, Money Laundering and The FCA

Author: Nicola Sharp  1 June 2023

The Nationwide’s money laundering prevention efforts are coming under Financial Conduct Authority scrutiny. Nicola Sharp of Rahman Ravelli considers the regulator’s efforts to tackle the problem.

The Nationwide building society has said that its anti-money laundering controls are being examined by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

In a financial statement filing, the Nationwide has said that it is cooperating with an early-stage investigation by the FCA into its compliance with UK money laundering regulations and agency rules.

In the filing, the building society says: “The FCA has commenced an investigation of the Society’s compliance with UK money laundering regulations and the FCA’s rules and Principles for Businesses in an enquiry focused on aspects of the Society’s anti-money laundering control framework.’’

It added that it was not disclosing a financial impact estimate for the investigation, as it said it was not “practicable” to do so at present.


Attention

The FCA had stated in its 2023-24 business plan that it would increase the attention it paid towards anti-money laundering and sanctions controls within the regulated sector, as part of its aim to reduce and prevent financial crime in the UK.

It had said it would increase the volume of proactive assessments of firms’ anti-money laundering systems and controls and continue proactively supervising firms’ sanctions systems and controls.

In 2022, the FCA fined Spanish bank Santander £107.7 million for what it called “serious and persistent” failures in its anti-money laundering controls. In announcing the penalty, which was one the biggest ever imposed by the FCA, it said Santander’s failings had affected its oversight of more than half a million small business customers.

The FCA has frequently penalised firms for anti-money laundering failures. Standard Chartered was fined £102.2 million in 2019, and HSBC was ordered to pay £63.9 million two years ago.

A UK court imposed a £265 million criminal penalty on NatWest in 2021, following convictions for three offences of failing to comply with money laundering regulations. This followed an FCA investigation that found the bank handled transactions for a former gold dealer who was accused of laundering funds for organised crime figures.

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Nicola Sharp

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Nicola is known for her fraud, civil recovery, arbitration and business crime expertise, her experience of leading the largest financial disputes and multinational investigations and her skills in devising preventative measures and conducting internal investigations for corporates.

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