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Around 50 NatWest branches, ‘bags of cash’ involved in laundering case – FCA

A criminal gang deposited hundreds of millions of pounds in cash at up to 50 branches of NatWest (NWG.L), prosecutors for Britain’s financial regulator said on Monday, with at least one individual outlet receiving more than 40 million pounds.

Couriers walked through the streets of British towns such as Walsall carrying bags of cash they then deposited at the bank’s branches before the scheme was busted by police, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) told a judge ahead of sentencing.

One person in Walsall arrived at a branch with so much cash in bin bags that they broke and the money had to be repacked, the FCA said.

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The state-backed bank is expected to be fined later by an English court after pleading guilty in October to failing to prevent the laundering of nearly 400 million pounds ($529.8 million). read more

The expected fine will cap a landmark case in which NatWest became the first bank to be criminally prosecuted in Britain for an offence of this kind.

NatWest is Britain’s biggest business bank and is still majority taxpayer-owned after a 45 billion pound-plus state bailout during the financial crisis.

The FCA said NatWest failed to monitor suspect activity by a client that deposited about 365 million pounds over five years, including 264 million in cash.

The bank had previously pleaded guilty in October to three criminal charges of not adequately monitoring customer accounts between 2012 and 2016.

The customer was Fowler Oldfield, a Bradford-based gold dealer and jeweller liquidated after a police raid in 2016.

($1 = 0.7551 pounds)

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