Global Witness welcomes news that the British regulator, the Financial Services Authority (FSA), has fined Coutts bank for failing to do enough to prevent corrupt funds from flowing through its accounts.
“This fine is an indicator that the FSA is finally starting to hold our banks to account for the role that they can play in facilitating corruption,” said Robert Palmer, a campaigner with Global Witness. “At the moment it is all too easy for corrupt politicians to bring their assets into the UK. For example, the Libyan government has had to go to court in order to recover a £10 million London house belonging to Saadi Gaddafi.”
The fine follows a review carried out by the FSA last year into whether UK banks are doing enough to make sure they don’t accept corrupt funds. In a damning review, the regulator found systematic failings across the sector:
However, the FSA has said that following this review only five banks were going to be investigated formally. Today’s fine is the first result of this process.
“It is still incredibly rare for banks to get penalised for accepting the proceeds of corruption. We need more investigations, more fines, and in the worse cases, criminal penalties, to change bank behaviour. The FSA should investigate all of the banks that failed to carry out adequate checks,” added Palmer.
Global Witness calls on other countries to carry out similar investigations, and to fine banks that are failing to carry out the proper checks against corrupt funds.
Notes to the editors: