By LYDIA NGWAKWE
LAGOS- Guaranty Trust Bank UK Ltd. (GTBank UK) has reached settlement with the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) accepting findings in relation to Anti-Money Laundering (AML) controls in its operations between October 2014 and July 2019.
A statement by the bank’s Managing Director, Mr. Gbenga Alade, released on Tuesday in Lagos, said the bank had cooperated fully with the FCA investigation and had agreed a penalty of 7,671,800 pounds.
He said the amount was calculated by reference to a proportion of the revenues of GTBank UK over the relevant period and included a 30 per cent discount for early settlement.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the FCA found that some of the bank’s historic AML controls and processes did not operate in line with relevant regulatory requirements.
The FCA investigation focused on GTBank UK’s AML controls and steps taken by the bank to remediate them to ensure they operated in line with the relevant requirements.
The findings are final, and no further action is anticipated in respect of the matter.
The FCA acknowledged in its findings that GTBank UK had spent considerable time and resource in order to bring its AML standards up to the required level.
“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.
“We would like to assure all our 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,” said Alade.
He added that the Guaranty Trust Banking Group, including GTBank UK, was fully committed to the fight against all forms of financial crime and to continuing to meet all applicable financial crime regulations and legislation globally.
“Our AML policies and controls, together with our overall risk management strategy, are regularly reviewed and revised to ensure that they remain relevant and current in line with the evolving regulatory requirements,” he said.
Alade said the bank had enhanced its AML control framework through a comprehensive remediation programme to address the specific issues identified in the FCA’s findings and obtained specialist advice and review from external advisors.
“We have also conducted a comprehensive programme of work to review and as necessary remediate our customer files, which have been subject to review by external consultants.
“We have also continued to invest in people and systems to ensure sustained adherence to our AML controls and to protect our customers and the communities where we operate,” said Alade.
He further explained that in the last seven years, GTBank UK had made significant infrastructure investments in enhancing its AML control framework.
“For example, in the last three years alone, we have invested over 10 million pounds in transaction monitoring and screening platforms to transform our control framework across the Group,” he said.