FCA fines Guaranty Trust Bank (UK) £7.6 million for AML failures

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has announced imposing a £7,671,800 fine on Guaranty Trust Bank (UK) Limited (GT Bank) for lapses in its anti-money laundering (AML) systems and controls.

According to the official press release, between October 2014 and July 2019 GT Bank failed to conduct adequate customer risk assessments, often not assessing or documenting the money laundering risks posed by its customers.

Furthermore, the UK regulator alleges that the bank failed to monitor customer transactions and business relationships to the regulation standards.

The FCA noted that these regulatory lapses have been highlighted by internal and external sources and the bank still did not take appropriate actions to fix them.

The FCA

In the beginning of 2018, GT Bank stopped taking on new customers. Given the FCA’s concerns, the bank agreed to wider voluntary restrictions on business later the same year. These additional requirements remained in place until mid-2021. They were lifted then GT Bank remediation plan, which was checked by an independent third party.

The FCA also pointed out that this is not GT Bank’s first fine for AML control failures either. The regulator fined the bank £525,000 in August 2013 for systemic lapses.

The UK watchdog requires the bank to put in place effective AML controls to mitigate the risk of individuals and organisations

Mark Steward, Executive Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight at the FCA, said:

GT Bank should have acted quickly to put in place adequate AML controls following its fine in 2013 but it failed to do so. GT Bank did not develop a plan that was capable of addressing its AML weaknesses, exposing it and the broader market to financial crime risks for a prolonged period.

Firms must protect themselves and those dealing with them from financial crime risks, especially money laundering. The FCA is determined to ensure the market for financial services is safe, clean and trusted with robust systems and controls in place to stymie financial crime. The FCA will continue to take action when these standards are not met.

The official announcement added that GT Bank has not disputed FCA’s findings and qualifies for a 30% discount, otherwise the penalty would have been £10,959,700.

Earlier in December, the FCA fined Santander UK Plc £107.7 million for severe and recurring failures in anti-money laundering (AML) controls.

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