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Wed 4 Nov 2015 01:55 PM

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Dubai regulator fines Dutch bank ABN Amro $640,000

Dubai Financial Services Authority imposes fine after bank's DIFC branch contravened money laundering rules

Dubai regulator fines Dutch bank ABN Amro $640,000

Dubai's financial regulator has announced it has imposed a fine of $640,000 on the Dubai branch of Dutch banking giant ABN Amro.

The Dubai Financial Services Authority imposed the fine following an investigation which found that, over the period from January 1 2013 to December 31 2014, ABN contravened a number of DFSA's rules requiring it to implement appropriate safeguards to prevent opportunities for money laundering. 

In June, ABN Amro said it had fired an employee as part of an internal investigation into its private banking operations in Dubai.

The bank launched the investigation after a March 11 report in newspaper Het Financieele Dagblad alleged the bank suspected employees in Dubai of misconduct.

ABN brought the contraventions to the DFSA’s attention after the firm received internal whistleblower complaints concerning the operation of its private banking international business line in the DIFC. 

In response to the complaints, ABN initiated the internal investigation which revealed that some of its staff within the DIFC branch had engaged in practices that breached ABN’s own policies and DFSA administered laws and rules.

The DFSA said ABN did not ensure that its anti-money laundering (AML) related systems and controls operated effectively and failed to monitor and supervise the activities of all its employees.

It said in a statement that ABN’s failings were widespread and exposed its business, and the DIFC, to a high risk of financial crime and money laundering. However the DFSA does not allege that any money laundering took place.  

The DFSA said it reduced the amount of the fine after taking into consideration ABN’s initiative to act quickly on the issues raised in the complaints, to self-report the misconduct to the DFSA, to take significant steps to remediate its deficiencies and to co-operate fully with the DFSA’s investigation.

As well as imposing the fine, the DFSA directed ABN to undertake further steps to remediate its AML related deficiencies. 

Bryan Stirewalt, acting CEO of the DFSA said: "Although the contraventions in this matter are serious, ABN has taken significant proactive steps to report, investigate and remediate its failings.

"Consequently, the DFSA has taken these factors into consideration and adjusted the penalty proportionally. The DFSA seeks to encourage good governance and compliance with its standards by incentivising those who embrace compliance with its regulatory regime.”

The bank is currently wooing investors for its IPO and is due to announce third-quarter earnings on Monday, ahead of a likely listing later next week.

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