Barclays fined £72m by FCA for poor checks on wealthy clients
Banking giant Barclays has been fined £72m for failing to conduct proper checks on very rich clients because it did not want to inconvenience them.
The City regulator said Barclays arranged a deal worth £1.88bn for wealthy clients in 2011 and 2012 which it kept quiet.
It did not conduct the proper checks on clients who should have been considered politically high risk.
The bank said it co-operated fully with the inquiry.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said that the clients were "politically exposed persons" and so should have undergone greater scrutiny by Barclays.
The watchdog said that this should have been done to minimise the risk that no financial crime would result.
No such crime was committed, but Barclays was found to have applied a lower level of checks than was the case with lower-risk customers.
The FCA said the bank went to "unacceptable lengths" to accommodate these wealthy clients, because it did not want to inconvenience them.
Records of the deal which made Barclays £52m, were kept strictly confidential, even within the bank. It promised to pay out to customers if this confidentiality was exposed.
The deal was referred to as an "elephant deal" within the bank - a term used for transactions worth more than £20m.
Few people knew of the existence and location of Barclays' checks, which were kept on a hard copy and not on the bank's systems.
"Barclays ignored its own process designed to safeguard against the risk of financial crime and overlooked obvious red flags to win new business and generate significant revenue. This is wholly unacceptable," said Mark Steward, director of enforcement and market oversight at the FCA.
The bank said: "Barclays has co-operated fully with the FCA throughout and continues to apply significant resources and training to ensure compliance with all legal and regulatory requirements."