Guaranty Trust Bank UK Limited (GTBank UK) has reached settlement with the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), accepting findings in relation to historical anti-money laundering (AML) controls in its operations between October 2014 and July 2019.
The bank spoke on the matter in a statement on Tuesday, saying it has implemented measures to ensure its AML framework operates within regulatory standards.
The FCA had said GTBank failed to undertake adequate customer risk assessments, often not assessing or documenting the money laundering risks posed by its customers.
It also accused the bank of failing to monitor 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,” FCA had said.
“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 in August 2013 for serious and systemic failings.”
Consequently, the financial regulator slammed a £7,671,800 fine on the bank, adding that without the 30 percent discount, the financial penalty would have been £10,959,700.
In response to the findings, GTBank said it has cooperated fully with the FCA investigation and has agreed to the penalty sum of £7.6 million.
It said the penalty was calculated by reference to a proportion of the revenues of GTBank UK over the relevant period and includes a 30 percent discount for early settlement.
Meanwhile, GTBank explaind that the FCA’s investigation focused on its UK subsidiary’s AML controls and steps taken by it to remediate these to ensure they operated in line with the relevant requirements.
The bank said the FCA findings were final, and no further action is anticipated in respect of the matter.
According to the bank, the FCA acknowledged in its findings that the financial institution has spent considerable time and resources in order to bring its AML standards up to the required level.
Commenting on the issue, Gbenga Alade, managing director of GTBank UK, said: “As a responsible financial services institution that is committed to best practices, GTBank UK takes its AML obligations extremely seriously.”
“We note with sincere regret the FCA’s findings regarding AML control gaps in our operations in the past and we are very sorry for this.”
Alade assured stakeholders and the general public that necessary steps have been taken to address and resolve the identified gaps.
“Whilst there was no direct customer impairment arising from the period under review [and the FCA’s findings do not include any instances of suspected money laundering], we have since reinforced our AML control framework and implemented changes in our AML processes in line with best practice with a view to ensuring that the highest standards are maintained in our operations,” he explained.