One of Nigeria’s foremost financial institutions, Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB), has again been caught in a web of ineptitude and “serious weaknesses in its anti-money laundering (AML) systems and controls between October 2014 and July 2019”.
News Hub Mag! gathered that the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), regulator of the financial services industry in the United Kingdom, stated this recently just as it has imposed monetary penalties totalling £7.7 million on the financial institution.
Information made available to News Hub Mag! reveals that this is not the first time GTB will be sanctioned on its AML controls, having incurred a fine of £525,000 in August 2013 “for serious and systemic failings.”
GTB is accused of falling short of the obligation to track customer transactions and business dealings in conformity to the expected standards and despite efforts by insiders and external sources pointing out these flaws to the financial institution, it refrained from making moves to address them.
“These weaknesses were repeatedly highlighted to GT Bank by internal and external sources, including the FCA, but despite this, GT Bank failed to take appropriate action to fix them,” the Financial Conduct Authority said in a statement on Tuesday.
The document said, “GT Bank has not disputed the FCA’s findings and agreed to settle, which means it has qualified for a 30 per cent discount.”
The fine would have been in the neighbourhood of £11 million had it not been discounted.
The watchdog, which regulates the conduct of 50,000 companies in the country, expects functional AML controls to be installed by the firms it oversees to curb threats from persons and organisations using financial services firms to bypass checks aimed at blocking them from enjoying illicitly acquired assets.
Feeling the heat of his bank’s involvement in this outrageous financial scandal, Gbenga Alade managing director of GT Bank UK, defended saying the bank takes its 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.
“As a responsible financial services institution that is committed to best practices, GTBank UK takes its AML obligations extremely seriously.
“We note with sincere regret the FCA’s findings regarding AML control gaps in our operations in the past and we are very sorry for this,” he said.
As of the time of filing this report, the bank’s headquarters in Nigeria is keeping mum on the development and IR is yet to be certified if the lapses in the money laundering system led to practical infractions.