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ING Group settles with Italian regulator over AML gaps
Several MLA requests from European regulators for illicit transactions via the Italian branches of ING Bank triggered a probe by the Italian regulator. The investigation confirmed practices of several of the banks customers in online scams between 2016 and 2018. In addition, the regulatory intervention revealed gaps in AML compliance allowing the suspicious transactions to be executed.
The Dutch lender reached a provisional settlement for the amount of 30 million Euros. The agreed voluntary penalty ends the money laundering investigation by the prosecutor in Milan and comes after the bank settled with the regulator in its home country for 775 million Euros last year. The bank was forced to cease further online account opening in Italy in March of this year. It is unknown yet what additional measures are forced upon the bank by the Italian authorities.
ING Bank, among other financial institutions, strengthened its compliance, due diligence and internal procedures after shortcomings were revealed in 2018 that led to the single largest fine in Dutch history. The bank has built a concept called ‘Model Bank’ to serve the European market online. Know your customer and compliance issues are yet to be improved.
Anti-money laundering procedures at European banks are under a magnifier. The European Central Bank revoked the licenses of several banks recently. Financial institutions in Cyprus, Latvia, Malta and Austria were recently stripped of its permission to transact. The recent exposure of widespread and cross border laundromats reveal a systemic challenge.
ECB withdraws license of Austrian Meinl Bank AG
On the 15th of November 2019, the European Central Bank decided to revoke the banking license of Meinl Bank with immediate effect, following an earlier decision of the management of the bank to withdraw from the banking business. Meinl Bank AG changed its name in July 2019 into Anglo Austrian AAB Bank AG, whilst strengthening internal compliance and AML safeguards.
The Vienna based financial institution was founded in 1923, employs 80 staff members and the total assets of the bank are estimated at 275 million Euro. Depositors are requested to provide the bank with their transfer information to retrieve their account balance and securities. In a statement on the banks website, the bank claims to have a solid capital base.
The termination of the bank’s license comes after the bank was fined by the Austrian regulator earlier in 2019 for ‘breaches of due diligence requirements for the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing’, and seems part of a larger clean up operation of the European banking sector after challenges in AML compliance were exposed. Financial institutions in Cyprus, Malta, Latvia, and now Austria were part of this clean-up operation, and were shut down by their respective regulatory authority in recent years. Decisions by the ECB to withdraw a banking license can be challenged. The bank evaluates the possible legal steps against the decision.
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What originally started as a boutique service for Dutch expats, turned over time into a steady firm for consumers and enterprises involved in bank failures and investment fraud. For the majority of our corporate customers Legal Floris LLC also offers a wide variety of tailor made services.