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Bank fined £500,000 for breaching counter-terror and money-laundering regulations

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A JERSEY branch of a global bank has been fined almost £500,000 for failing to comply with anti counter-terror and money laundering regulations.

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Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank PJSC Jersey Branch admitted failures to comply with strict regulations in relation to two customers withdrawing huge sums of cash at a branch in the United Arab Emirates.

The bank was fined £475,000 and ordered to pay costs of £25,000 by the Royal Court for failing to comply with the requirements of the Money Laundering (Jersey) Order 2008. It is the first time since 2005 that a corporate offender has been convicted and sentenced for failures to comply with anti-money laundering orders under the Proceeds of Crime (Jersey) Law 1999.

The court heard that the bank failed to apply the correct procedures when dealing with two of its Middle Eastern customers. It was heard the customers were allowed to withdraw large sums of cash – amounting to hundreds of thousands of US dollars – over the counter in the UAE without the bank knowing what the clients were using the cash for.

A total of US$1.2m was withdrawn between 2013 and 2018.

A spokesman for the Law Officers' Department in Jersey said it is not alleged that either of the customers were 'definitely engaged in criminal activity, only that ADCBJ failed to have adequate systems in place to counter the risk of money laundering or terrorism financing'.

Solicitor General Mark Temple, the Island's Attorney General designate, said in a statement: 'I welcome the sentence handed down by the court which shows that Jersey, in its position as a global finance centre, is committed to combatting financial crime and ensuring that financial service providers are held to account when offences of this kind are committed.

'The sentencing today represents the culmination of a long-running investigation into the activity of Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank PJSC Jersey Branch by the Law Officers’ Department’s Economic Crime and Confiscation Unit.'

In October 2018, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank PJSC was fined £25,000 and ordered to pay £2,805 in compensation after admitting one count of intermedling. On that occasion the court heard the bank transferred $401,103 from a deceased man’s Jersey account without the correct authorisation.

Jack Maguire

By Jack Maguire
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