UK Bank Fined for Money Laundering


December 11, 2003

London - Abbey National, Britain's second-biggest mortgage lender and the country's sixth-biggest bank, was fined a record �2.32 million by the Financial Services Authority yesterday for serious compliance failures, including breaches of money laundering rules

The authority imposed a �2 million penalty on Abbey National for failing to maintain effective anti-money laundering procedures, the largest such fine it has ever assessed. It also imposed a �320 000 penalty on the group's asset managing business for separate systems and control breaches.

An investigation by the authority found that Abbey National failed to ensure that suspicious activity reports in its retail banking division during December 2001 and April 2002 were promptly considered and reported to the National Criminal Intelligence Service.

The authority introduced strict money laundering rules in December 2001 as part of the global crackdown on the funding of terrorist activities.

"The failure by Abbey National to monitor compliance with the authority's money laundering rules demonstrated a marked lack of regard for its regulatory obligations," said Andrew Procter, the director of enforcement at the authority.

Abbey National said it would not appeal, and had already taken action to address the issues identified.

"There was no evidence of money laundering taking place, although the company fully acknowledges that its methods for checking customer identification were inadequate, and that the company was not reporting suspicious activity on a timely basis," it said in a statement.

It added that a number of clients of Abbey National Asset Manager who were affected by the control failures had already been paid compensation totalling �300 000.


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