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Dutch prosecutors broaden their investigation into ABN Amro

ABN Amro is now suspected of “culpable money laundering”, Ireland extends their money laundering regulations to cryptocurrencies and the FCA accuses NatWest of failing in their AML processes

Antonis Melis
March 19, 2021

Dutch prosecutors broaden their investigation into ABN Amro, and now suspect them of “culpable money laundering”, which could leave their executives being held individually responsible.  

And Ireland broadens their money laundering rules to treat crypto currencies similarly to financial institutions.  

NatWest has been accused of failing to monitor and inspect deposits totalling £365m, of which £264m was in cash, between 2011 and 2016.  

Find out more on these stories below.

ABN Amro shares drop 4% amid concerns over extent of possible money laundering fine

ABN Amro published their annual report last week, which described the investigation by Dutch prosecutors- started in September 2019- as being broader in scope than previously stated. The bank also said that they are now suspected of “culpable money laundering”.

The original allegations against ABN Amro were limited to three AML failures. These were: not detecting accounts involved in money laundering; not ending relations with suspicious clients; and not reporting suspicious transactions to relevant authorities. The additional allegation suggests that the lender knowingly allowed money-laundering to take place yet failed to act.

Apart from the protracted investigation, ABN Amro could not merely face a higher fine than previously expected, but may also see its banking executives held individually responsible for allowing money-laundering activities.  

Ireland’s money laundering regime extended to bitcoin from April

Starting in April, cryptocurrency service providers in Ireland will have to comply with industry-wide money-laundering rules and other basic regulations for the first time, under Ireland’s expanded anti-money laundering regime.  

These regulatory changes remove a layer of anonymity from crypto transactions. Companies that exchange or transfer virtual assets will have to complete due diligence on their customers. This will include tracking the origin and destination of client assets in line with the same anti-money laundering rules that apply to other financial institutions.  

NatWest faces criminal case over money laundering

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has initiated criminal proceedings against NatWest, alleging that the bank failed to comply with the rules combating money-laundering. The FCA claims that £365m- of which £264m was in cash- was deposited into a UK account between 2011 and 2016.

The FCA’s pursuit of criminal action against a bank is unprecedented. The allegation is that NatWest’s internal AML systems were inadequate, having failed to flag such an irregular sequence of transactions.

Apart from the long-term ramifications of NatWest being convicted, the amounts of money involved are such that there are no upward limits to any fines incurred, should they be imposed by the FCA.

Find out more on this story on the BBC

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