Natwest has pleaded guilty to failing to prevent the alleged money laundering of nearly Â£ 400million by a customer.
NatWest has admitted three counts of failing to properly monitor Â£ 365million deposited into a client’s account.
This is the first time that a financial institution has been the subject of criminal proceedings under UK anti-money laundering laws.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has stated that NatWest failed to comply with the requirements of anti-money laundering legislation regarding the account of Fowler Oldfield Ltd between November 7, 2013 and June 23, 2016.
Fowler Oldfield was a centennial jeweler based in Bradford. It was closed following a police raid in 2016.
Natwest customer deposited Â£ 1.8million per day
NatWest now faces a fine of up to Â£ 340million.
FCA prosecutor Clare Montgomery QC told magistrates at Westminster that when Fowler Oldfield was hired as a client by NatWest his expected turnover was Â£ 15million per year.
However, he deposited Â£ 365million in almost five years.
She said: ‘Fowler Oldfield’s turnover was estimated at Â£ 15million per year.
âIt was agreed that the bank would not process cash deposits.
“However, he did deposit Â£ 365million, of which around Â£ 264million was in cash.”
She said that in his heyday, Fowler Oldfield was depositing up to Â£ 1.8million a day.
NatWest Managing Director Alison Rose said: âWe deeply regret that NatWest failed to adequately monitor and therefore prevent money laundering by one of our clients between 2012 and 2016.
âNatWest has a vital role to play in the detection and prevention of financial crime and we take our responsibility to prevent third party money laundering very seriously.
âIn the years since this case, we have invested significant resources and continue to step up our efforts to effectively fight financial crime.
âWe are working tirelessly with colleagues, other banks, industry bodies, law enforcement, regulators and governments to help find collaborative solutions to this common challenge. These partnerships are essential in addressing the significant and evolving threat of financial crime to society. ”
NatWest admitted three offenses under the Money Laundering Regulations 2007.
Of the potential fine facing NatWest, Ms Montgomery said: “The appropriate injury figure will be around Â£ 170million, with a 200% multiplier.”
Chief Justice Paul Goldspring said the numbers involved were too large to be processed by the Magistrate Court, and the conviction will take place at Southwark Crown Court on or before December 8.