Monday, 12 August 2013

UK Fines GTBank For Inadequate Money Laundering Checks

Culled from PUNCH

The United Kingdom-based Financial Conduct Authority has fined the UK subsidiary of the Guaranty Trust Bank over £500,000 for failing to do thorough anti-money laundering checks on its potential clients from high-risk countries.

The FCA said on Friday that between May 2008 and July 2010, the bank had failed to assess potential money-laundering risks, screen customers against sanction lists, establish the purpose of the accounts being opened in their London branch or review the activity of “high risk” accounts, Reuters’ report said.
Guaranty Trust Bank opened a UK office in 2008 offering retail and wholesale banking to private and corporate clients, according to the regulator.
Specifically, the FCA said in a statement that it had levied a £525,000 fine on the UK subsidiary of the bank after it looked at the bank’s systems as part of a wider review into anti-money laundering controls among banks.

A similar report by the Financial Times quoted the regulator as saying that the bank was not rigorous enough in pressing potential customers on their sources of wealth.
This, it added, included not pressing a client, who was a so-called politically exposed person “wanted by the UK authorities in connection with laundering millions of dollars of embezzled public funds”, on the ultimate source of a cheque for £500,000 that he deposited from an offshore account, according to the regulator’s final investigative report.
The regulator, however, declined to identify the individual, the report stated.
The Nigerian authorities in 2007 named GTB’s parent bank, the first African bank to list in London, as one of two banks used by the former Governor of Delta State, James Ibori, in their money laundering investigation of him, in which he was acquitted.
Ibori was found guilty of money-laundering and fraud worth £50m last year at Southwark Crown Court and sentenced to 13 years, following a separate investigation and prosecution by the UK authorities.
The UK regulator and its predecessor, the Financial Services Authority, have made anti-money laundering controls a priority over the past two years as tighter directives from Europe and new UK anti-bribery legislation have taken effect.
Reacting to the fine, Bloomberg quoted the Managing Director of GTB’s UK unit, Mr. Ade Adebiyi, as saying, “We have fully co-operated with the FCA in its investigation and we have accepted the findings.”
Adebiyi, in an e-mailed statement, however said, “The FCA found no evidence that GTB UK did in fact handle any proceeds of crime.”
He said the lapses occurred early in its set up in Britain and had since been addressed.

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