FCA fines Santander UK £107.7 million for recurrent anti-money laundering lapses

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) announced on Friday issuing a more than £107.7 million fine on Santander UK Plc for severe and recurring failures in anti-money laundering (AML) controls.

According to the regulator, the firm failed to properly oversee and manage its AML systems for almost five years, between 31 December 2012 and 18 October 2017. These regulatory omissions significantly impacted the oversight of over 560,000 business customers.

The FCA detailed in its announcement that Santander’s AML systems were ineffective and could not adequately verify the business information provided by the customers. Additionally, the firm failed to properly monitor the expected funds customers put into these accounts compared to the actual mone they deposited.

The FCA

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

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.

As part of our commitment to prevent and reduce financial crime, we continue to take action against firms which fail to operate proper anti-money laundering controls.

The UK watchdog identified several business banking accounts which were not managed correctly by Santander. In one case, a small translation business that expected monthly deposits of £5,000 was receiving millions of pounds within six months.

The bank’s AML team recommended closing the account on March 2014, however it took until September 2015 for the bank to take action. Santander also agreed to a request from law enforcement in September 2015 to keep the account open but lost track of the regulatory request.

The FCA estimates that these failures led to over £298 million passing through the bank before it closed the accounts.

Earlier in 2019, the FCA Standard Chartered Bank fined £102.2 million for poor AML controls.

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