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FCA fines Bank of Beirut UK £2.1m

The FCA has fined the Bank of Beirut UK £2.1m and fined two approved persons for providing misleading information to the regulator.

The FCA has also stopped the bank from acquiring new customers from high-risk jurisdictions for 126 days, after concerns the bank was not doing enough to address the risk it was being used for financial crime.

Former compliance officer Anthony Wills has been fined £19,600 and former internal auditor Michael Allin has been fined £9,900.

Following supervisory visits to the firm in 2010 and 2011, the regulator was concerned that too little consideration was being given to the risk that the bank be used for financial crime.

The Bank of Beirut was required to take a number of actions to address these concerns.

However, it repeatedly provided misleading information to the regulator indicating that it had completed remedial actions when it had not.

Wills and Allin were responsible for addressing a number of the actions required of the firm.

Wills handled most of the communication between the firm and the regulator and he sought to dismiss concerns that the Bank of Beirut was not properly implementing the required changes.

Allin provided false assurance that the improvements to the firm’s processes had been made.

The FCA says both Wills and Allin were influenced by senior management. But it says that given their position as approved persons, they should have resisted management.

Bank of Beirut settled with the FCA at an early stage of the investigation. Had it not done so, it would have faced a fine of £3m and a restriction of 180 days.

Wills and Allin also settled at the first opportunity, and had they not would have faced financial penalties of £28,000 and £14,100 respectively.

This is the second time the FCA has used its suspension or restriction powers to punish a firm for serious misconduct.

The first was when it banned adviser networks Financial Limited and Investments Limited from recruiting new advisers in July after finding weaknesses in the firms’ systems and controls.

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