NatWest fined £264m over anti-money laundering failures

You have black bin liners full of cash, so where do you take it? Well, for one Bradford jeweller the answer was easy – NatWest Bank!

Over a five-year period, jeweller Fowler Oldfield deposited £365m, including £264m in cash. The sums were so large that one bank with two floor to ceiling safes was not big enough. Concerns were raised particularly over the large number of ‘musty smelling’ Scottish notes. It was suggested they had been stored under floorboards somewhere! Despite staff raising concerns no appropriate action was taken.

NatWest pleaded guilty of three charges of failure to comply with anti-money-laundering regulations. At Southwark crown court, Mrs Justice Cockerill fined the bank £264,772,620, ordered it to pay an additional £4,297,466 in costs, and made a £460,047 confiscation order. She said: “…it must be borne in mind that although in no way complicit in the money laundering which took place, the Bank was functionally vital. Without the Bank – and without the Bank’s failures – the money could not be effectively laundered.”

It is the first time a financial institution has faced criminal prosecution by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) under anti-money-laundering laws in the UK.