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UK watchdog fines Guaranty Trust bank over money-laundering controls

Man walks toward a Guaranty Trust Bank building in the central business district in Abuja, Nigeria

By Huw Jones

LONDON (Reuters) -Britain's financial watchdog has fined the UK subsidiary of Nigeria's Guaranty Trust Bank 7.6 million pounds ($9.3 million) for what it said were further failures in its anti-money laundering systems and controls.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said it found "serious weaknesses" in systems aimed at preventing money laundering between October 2014 and July 2019.

"During the relevant period, GT Bank failed to undertake adequate customer risk assessments, often not assessing or documenting the money laundering risks posed by its customers," the FCA said in a statement.

These weaknesses were repeatedly highlighted to GT Bank by internal and external sources, including the FCA, but GT Bank failed to take appropriate action to fix them, the watchdog said.

Gbenga Alade, managing director of GT Bank UK, said the bank takes it anti-money laundering obligations extremely seriously and noted the FCA's findings with sincere regret, adding that the FCA found no instances of suspected money laundering.

“We would like to assure all our stakeholders and the general public that necessary steps have been taken to address and resolve the identified gaps," Alade said in a statement.

The FCA had already fined GT Bank 525,000 pounds in August 2013 for serious and systemic failings related to anti-money laundering controls.

The FCA said that GT Bank has not disputed its findings and agreed to settle, thereby qualifying for a 30% discount on the fine, which would otherwise have amounted to 11 million pounds.

($1 = 0.8214 pounds)

(Reporting by Huw JonesEditing by Kirsten Donovan and David Goodman)