Niall Hearty of financial crime specialists Rahman Ravelli assesses the situation

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has been asked to explain why it took five years to prosecute NatWest for money laundering failings relating to £365 million that was paid into one client's account.

In October, the bank admitted three criminal charges of failing to monitor customer accounts. It is the first time a British bank has admitted this criminal offence.

But the FCA has now been asked by the UK government's Treasury Select Committee to give the reasons why it took five years after the initial 2016 police raid to bring the case to a successful conclusion. The Committee also wants to know why no individual NatWest staff members were prosecuted.

The FCA has said that it has received a letter from the Committee and will respond to it. Committee members are clearly determined to find out why things did not proceed quicker when it became apparent that NatWest had allowed a small Bradford jeweller to deposit £365 million - £264 million of which was cash - into an account between 2012 and 2016.

Nat West accepted that it failed to comply with the 2007 Money Laundering Regulations and the case has been committed to Southwark Crown Court for sentencing.

But while the outcome can be considered a success for the FCA, it now needs to explain the length of time it took to get to this stage, in order to head off criticism of its activities.

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