NatWest unit faces criminal charge in money laundering case

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LONDON (AP) — National Westminster Bank has been charged with violating money laundering laws in relation to 365 million pounds ($505 million) deposited into a single customer’s accounts over a period of five years, Britain’s financial regulator said Tuesday.

The criminal charges are the latest in a series of legal and conduct issues faced by the bank’s parent NatWest Group, which was bailed out by taxpayers during the global financial crisis, when it was known as the Royal Bank of Scotland. The British government still owns 62% of the bank.

The Financial Conduct Authority said the case involves “increasingly large” deposits that were made into the accounts of a U.K.-incorporated customer between Nov. 11, 2011, and Oct. 19, 2016. The transactions totaled 365 million pounds, including 264 million pounds of cash deposits, the FCA said.

The agency alleges that National Westminster violated laws that require firms to monitor their relationships with customers to prevent money laundering. The case represents the first prosecution of a bank under the law, which was written in 2007, the FCA said.

NatWest said it was notified of the investigation in July 2017 and is cooperating with financial regulators.

“NatWest Group takes extremely seriously its responsibility to seek to prevent money laundering by third parties and accordingly has made significant, multi-year investments in its financial crime systems and controls,” the bank said in a statement.

A first court appearance is scheduled for April 14 at Westminster Magistrate’s Court.