Following the sentencing in the Nat West MLR prosecution, the Treasury Committee has published further correspondence between it and the FCA. The FCA has now responded to the Committee’s previous correspondence, noting that:
- FCA started its investigation in July 2017 following the bank’s notification of the police investigation into Fowler Oldfield in late 2016;
- FCA needed to carry out an extensive and complex analysis of the bank’s systems and controls over the nearly 6 years that Fowler Oldfield had been a customer;
- FCA had offered Nat West a voluntary interview “under caution” twice in 2019, which the bank refused, and subsequently provided FCA with a written statement in which it denied MLR breaches;
- FCA then issued criminal charges in March 2021 and provided the bank with extensive disclosure of the prosecution case. At that point Nat West invited FCA to engage in plea negotiations which were concluded by Nat West entering a guilty plea on 7 October.
FCA thinks the investigation was conducted with the appropriate diligence and expediency, and had to be prepared in expectation of a criminal hearing. It decided to take criminal action in light of all the evidence, including Nat West’s statement denying breach. In response to the query about individuals, FCA noted there was insufficient evidence to establish individual liability given the distribution and allocation of system knowledge and responsibilities. Also, most of the conduct predated the SMCR. So, FCA will not be prosecuting any individuals unless further information comes to light.
FCA is at various stages of a number of other investigations into misconduct under the MLRs and other AML related breaches.