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Dubai’s financial free zone regulator said that it fined Amsterdam-headquartered ABN AMRO’s local branch Dhs 2.3m for not completely adhering to local anti-money laundering rules.
The Dubai Financial Services Authority said that the contraventions were brought to its attention by ABN after the firm received internal whistleblower complaints concerning the operation of its private banking business line in the Dubai International Financial Centre.
ABN launched its own internal enquiry following the complaints and found that some of its staff had engaged in practices that breached both the rules set by ABN and DFSA, a statement said.
DFSA made it clear that the bank did not engage in any money laundering act but said that it imposed the fine because ABN’s “failings were widespread”, exposing its business and DIFC to a high risk of financial crime.
The regulator said that it imposed the fine on ABN since it had failed to ensure the efficiency of its anti-money laundering rules and check that its employees were adequately trained in observing them. The agency added that the Dutch state-owned lender also did not conduct due diligence on many of its clients.
DFSA said that it reduced ABN’s penalty to $640,000 from $1m because the bank had self reported the contraventions to the regulator while it took steps to correct its shortfalls and cooperated fully with the investigation.
DFSA’s investigation was conducted in close co-operation with ABN’s home regulator, De Nederlandsche Bank N.V, the statement said.
“Although the contraventions in this matter are serious, ABN has taken significant proactive steps to report, investigate and remediate its failings,” said DFSA’s acting chief executive Bryan Stirewalt.
“Consequently, the DFSA has taken these factors into consideration and adjusted the penalty proportionally. The DFSA seeks to encourage good governance and compliance with its standards by incentivising those who embrace compliance with its regulatory regime.
“In this case, ABN received a proportionate discount for exercising a good compliance culture after it found misconduct which contravened its own standards as well as the DFSA administered regulatory regime.”
DFSA has become more vigilant of money laundering rule violations, handing out penalties to firms within its jurisdiction.
Recently the regulator fined Arqaam Capital $50,000, citing problems with the company’s compliance to DFSA’s anti-money laundering rules. The DFSA also penalised Deutsche Bank with $8.4m after noting “serious contraventions” by the German bank’s wealth management unit.