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How UK again, hits GTBank with £7.7m fine for Anti-Money Laundering systems failure –Regulator

*The United Kingdom Financial Conduct Authority slams GTBank Limited (UK) with ‘discounted’ £7,671,800 fine for the bank’s failure to undertake adequate customer risk assessments, and/or non-documentation of  money-laundering risks in the country

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has fined Nigerian-owned Guaranty Trust Bank (GTBank) UK £7,671,800 (about N4.22 billion) for habitual weaknesses regarding Anti-Money Laundering (AML) systems between October 2014 and July 2019.

ConsumerConnect learnt during the relevant period, GTBank had “failed to undertake adequate customer risk assessments, often not assessing or documenting the money laundering risks posed by its customers.”

The commercial bank also defaulted in monitoring customer transactions and business relationships to the required standard.

“These weaknesses were repeatedly highlighted to GTBank by internal and external sources, including the FCA, but despite this, GTBank failed to take appropriate action to fix them,” Credit Strategy UK report said.

From early 2018 bank was said to have stopped taking on new customers in the country.

However, later that year, GTBank agreed to wider voluntary restrictions on business, given the FCA’s ongoing concerns, report noted.

Requirements remained in place until the middle of 2021 when they were lifted after the bank completed a remediation plan, checked by an independent third party.

Report further indicates “GTBank’s conduct is particularly egregious as this is not the first time that the bank has faced enforcement action in relation to its AML controls, with the FCA fining GTBank £525,000 August 2013 for serious and systemic failings.

Why FCA requires firms of effective AML controls

The UK’s FCA requires firms to have in place effective AML controls to mitigate the risk of individuals and organisations using financial institutions to circumvent restrictions designed to prevent them benefitting from assets obtained by illegal means.

GTBank’s reaction and discount on financial penalty

Meanwhile, GTBank has not disproved the FCA’s findings, and has agreed to pay the fine.

By implication, it means the bank has qualified for a 30 percent discount of the penalty.

But without this discount, the financial penalty would have been £10,959,700, according to report.

Mark Steward, Executive Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight at FCA, stressed that “GTBank did not develop a plan that was capable of addressing its AML weaknesses, exposing it and the broader market to financial crime risks for a prolonged period.

“Firms must protect themselves and those dealing with them from financial crime risks, especially money laundering.”

Steward also said: “The FCA is determined to ensure the market for financial services is safe, clean, and trusted with robust systems and controls in place to stymie financial crime.

“The FCA will continue to take action when these standards are not met.”

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