Syed Rahman of financial crime specialists Rahman Ravelli outlines why banks cannot afford to take a lax approach.

The Dutch bank ABN Amro has reached a 480 million euro ($574 million) settlement with prosecutors over money laundering allegations.

ABN Amro has agreed with Dutch authorities that it will pay a fine of 300 million euros and 180 million euros as disgorgement.

In September 2019, prosecutors accused ABN Amro of a failure to identify accounts that were being used to launder money. The bank was also investigated for not ending its relations with suspicious clients and for not reporting dubious transactions to the relevant authorities.

The investigation began one year after another Dutch bank, ING, paid a record fine of 775 million euros to settle a similar case.

ABN Amro's Chief Executive Robert Swaak has said the settlement brought to an end "a painful and disappointing episode'' for the bank.

The case highlights the fact that enforcement agencies throughout the world are increasingly focusing on the lack of procedures relating to anti-money laundering. There has been a significant increase in investigations by both the US' Department of Justice and the UK's Serious Fraud Office in relation to the poor procedures of banks.

This heightened activity should be a stark warning to banks to ensure their compliance procedures are of a high standard, and that - when it is relevant - they consult with their legal teams at the earliest possible stage.

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