‘Asleep on the watch?’ by Rachel Clark is a barrister at Bright Line Law, specialising in tax investigations

Rachel Clark examines money laundering and the role of the gatekeeper.

In March 2021, the Financial Conduct Authority very publicly initiated criminal proceedings against NatWest Plc. The bank faces allegations that it failed to adequately monitor and scrutinise around £365m of payments to a gold, jewellery and scrap metal dealer. 

This is the first such prosecution brought against a bank, and the announcement should be interpreted as a warning to those in the ‘regulated sector’. The authorities are using the ‘nuclear’ option, not just against money launderers, but against the gatekeepers who are meant to detect money laundering and halt it in its tracks.

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