20 October 2021

Treasury Committee asks questions of FCA over NatWest money laundering case

20 October 2021

An influential group of MPs has written to the financial watchdog over its investigation into money laundering at NatWest

Treasury Committee chair Mel Stride has asked Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) boss Nikhil Rathi to explain why it took five years to secure a prosecution against the bank.

Earlier this month NatWest admitted three counts of failing to properly monitor £365 million deposited into a customer’s account, making it the first financial institution to face criminal prosecution under anti-money laundering laws in the UK.

Mr Stride said: “I am interested in better understanding the reasons why it has taken five years after the police raid in 2016 to bring this case to a successful conclusion.”

He asks when the FCA was first made aware of the money laundering implications of the police raid at Fowler Oldfield, a century-old jeweller based in Bradford that had been making large cash deposits.

Treasury Committee chair Mel Stride has written to the FCA over the NatWest scandal (David Mirzoef/PA) (PA Archive)

The MP also said the FCA should tell the committee whether the National Crime Agency informed the watchdog, and asked how the FCA and police liaise.

Other questions include requests for the timeline between the FCA being made aware and a decision to prosecute the bank, and suggests police intervention may mean the FCA was failing to stop money laundering at regulated financial institutions.

Finally, the MP asks: “Why did the FCA decide not to prosecute NatWest individuals in this case?

“It is good to see a successful prosecution of NatWest for money laundering offences relating to a supposed jewellers based in Bradford.

“Banks have an important role to play in preventing money laundering and it’s clear NatWest failed to conduct thorough checks on this occasion.

“However, there are questions which remain to be answered, most notably why it has taken five years after the police raid in 2016 to bring this case to a successful conclusion.

“I have today written to the FCA requesting further information on this case and I look forward to receiving their response.”

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