Four banks and others, to be penalized by CBN for money laundering

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The Central Bank of Nigeria and Financial Reporting Council of Nigeria penalized four commercial banks between January and June for various infractions. It was discovered that the apex bank imposed a number of penalties on the banks for failure to comply with its Know-Your-Customers guidelines and in the anti-money laundering requirement.

The banks revealed the penalties in their audited financial statements for the six months ended June.

For its infractions, GTBank Plc was asked to pay N10m while the United Bank for Africa Plc and Access Bank Plc were asked to pay N8m each. Fidelity Bank Plc was sanctioned N4m by the regulating body.

GTBank revealed in its audited financial statement for six months ended June 30 that it was penalized N2m for Anti-Money laundering/ Combating the Financing of Terrorism regulation on three-tiered KYC and N8m for 2018 risk- based examination findings.

The bank explained that it was committed to fight all forms of financial crime including money laundering, terrorist financing, bribery and corruption.

It stated that to this end, the bank has continually implemented a framework for AML/CFT and the prevention of the financing and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Access Bank was penalized N4m over failure to comply with anti-money laundering requirement and additional N4m in respect of failure to comply with the apex bank’s manual of operations for fund transfer.

UBA, on the other hand, was sanctioned N2m for late resolution of customer compliants and N6m for deficiency in account documentation/late records retrieval.

The former President/Chairman of Council, Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria, Prof Segun Ajibola, explained that penalties in the banking sector came in different categories.

He stated that They are different categories of penalties in the banking industry. There are sanctions that are regulatory in nature when certain specifications are given and banks are unable to meet them.

There are penalties that are operational in nature like violating the CBN guidelines. There are also contraventions when banks are unable to meet up lending a certain fraction of loans portfolio to agriculture sector. It is expected by the end of the day the CBN imposes penalties.

There are some penalties that can be ethical in nature. It might involve banks involved in round-tripping foreign exchange – that is unethical practice. A bank that decided to accommodate AML/CFT without conducting due diligent has ethical issues.

He added that customers were given more sympathy than banks as it was more convenient to penalize banks than the customer.

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