The Financial Services Authority (FSA) of UK has fined members of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBSG) GBP5.6m for failing to have adequate systems and controls in place to prevent breaches of UK financial sanctions.

UK firms are prohibited from providing financial services to persons on the HM Treasury sanctions list. The Money Laundering Regulations 2007 require that firms maintain appropriate policies and procedures in order to prevent funds or financial services being made available to those on the sanctions list.

According to FSA, during 2007, RBSG processed the largest volume of foreign payments of any UK financial institution. However, between December 15, 2007 and December 31, 2008, RBS Plc, NatWest, Ulster Bank and Coutts and Co, which are all members of RBSG, failed to adequately screen both their customers, and the payments they made and received, against the sanctions list. This resulted in a risk that RBSG could have facilitated transactions involving sanctions targets, including terrorist financing.

Margaret Cole, director of enforcement and financial crime at FSA, said: “The involvement of UK financial institutions in providing funds, economic resources or financial services to designated persons on the sanctions list undermines the integrity of the UK’s financial services sector.

“By failing to screen relevant customers and payments against the HM Treasury sanctions list, RBSG left itself open to the risk that it was facilitating terrorist financing.

“The scale of the fine shows how seriously the FSA takes this issue and should act as a warning to other firms to ensure that they have adequate screening procedures.”