The U.K. Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) on Monday announced it fined Barclays Bank 783,800 pounds (U.S. $1.05 million) for “oversight failings” in its relationship with collapsed money remittance firm Premier FX.
The bank—which qualified for a 30 percent penalty reduction after cooperating with the regulator—has also agreed to make a voluntary payment of more than £10,000,000 (U.S. $13.4 million) to compensate in full 167 customers who lost their money when it was discovered Premier FX’s owner and director, Peter Rexstrew, had drained their accounts before his death in June 2018.
Premier FX misled its customers by informing them it was able to hold their funds indefinitely; that their funds would be held in secure, segregated client accounts; and that their funds would be protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme—none of which was true, the FCA noted upon censuring the firm in February 2021.
Barclays was Premier FX’s sole banker in the United Kingdom but failed to spot the firm was carrying out unauthorized activities and that its internal controls—particularly around anti-money laundering (AML) and financial crime—were deficient. This constituted a failure by Barclays to conduct its business with due skill, care, and diligence, according to the FCA.
Barclays was also criticized for not challenging the information Rexstrew gave it and for not questioning how the company operated, despite the bank classing it as a high-risk business.
The FCA said of the nine AML/enhanced due diligence reviews the bank conducted since 2006, two were not completed on time. Of those that were completed by Barclays, much of the information was simply cut and pasted from previous reports, which included errors the bank failed to spot or rectify.
In a statement, Barclays said it fully cooperated with the FCA’s investigation.