UK financial services regulator the Financial Services Authority [FSA] has fined the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) £5.6 million (A$9.7 million) for implementing shoddy IT systems which left it in breach of the country’s money laundering laws.
The bank had implemented its treasury IT system in 2006, which was meant to screen incoming and outgoing cross-border payments.
According to the FSA, RBS neglected to check the accuracy of the systems since its implementation.
“After the initial set up, the results produced by the screening filters were not routinely reviewed or monitored by RBSG to ensure that they were appropriate.
"This meant that over time the ‘fuzzy matching’ parameters initially set by RBSG became significantly less effective at identifying potential matches,” the authority said in its decision notice this week.
For two years the bank failed to screen a single incoming payment from a foreign source. It also missed the bulk of outgoing payments by its customers, except those destined for the US.
“RBSG’s automated screening failed to screen the majority of trade finance SWIFT messages generated in the international trade transactions that it carried out,” said the FSA.
Under UK laws financial institutions are meant to match customer transactions to the government’s treasury list, known as Her Majesty’s Treasury. The Treasury’s Asset Freezing Unit (AFU) maintains a list of people identified by the United Nations, the European Union and the UK. If the financial institution identifies a transaction that may correlate to a person on that list, it must stall the payment until it determines whether it is an exact match. If it is the bank should alert the AFU.
The FSA said it could have fined RBS $13.8 million, but offered RBA a 30 percent discount for not challenging its decision.