ABN AMRO Bank NV, one of the top three largest banks in the Netherlands, has accepted a settlement of 480 million euros ($577.60m) offered by the Netherlands Public Prosecution Service (NPPS). The NPPS has accused ABN AMRO of years of AML/CFT violations that may have led to money laundering. Separately, in an ongoing investigation, the NPPS has identified three natural persons – all former members of ABN AMRO’s Board of Directors – who are allegedly responsible for the Bank’s AML/CFT violations.
In 2019, the Dutch Fiscal Information and Investigation Service (FIOD) had commenced a criminal investigation after receiving concrete signs that ABN AMRO may have failed to perform its function as the gatekeeper against ML/TF for some clients. Following the criminal investigation, the NPPS found that ABN AMRO committed serious violations of compliance with the AML/CFT Act. In several cases, critical client data or documents were absent, or the source of client data was not clear. In others, client due diligence was missing, leading to incorrect or absent risk assessment and risk-based classification.
ABN AMRO also failed to consider expected use of cash as a parameter in risk profiling and classification of clients. Moreover, the Bank did not perform adequate ongoing client monitoring and periodic reassessments of client risks. It further failed to process alerts from the Bank’s transaction monitoring system. Furthermore, ABN AMRO failed to (timely) terminate its business relationships with clients flagged with an ‘unacceptable’ risk classification. In fact, when it did terminate such relationships, terminated clients could still become clients again.
Due to the lack of AML/CFT compliance, various criminally inclined clients abused ABN AMRO accounts and services for several years. Since ABN AMRO failed to detect irregular financial transactions, the NPPS also believes that it enabled culpable money laundering. Accordingly, the NPPS finds 480 million euros ($577.60m) an apt penalty for ABN AMRO to settle the case. This includes 300 million euros ($361m) as fine and a disgorgement of unlawfully obtained gains of 180 million euros ($216.60m). The NPPS has determined the penalty amount by taking into account the seriousness, extent and duration of the offences, ABN AMRO’s cooperation with the authorities, and its financial capacity.