The British-registered, Qatari state-controlled bank Al Rayan, that has been acting as a platform for extremists’ interests in Europe, is being investigated over its money laundering controls. The bank has come under scrutiny after it was revealed its client list included at least 15 controversial entities, including groups accused of links to extremists including Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.
The investigation, believed to be launched last year, has placed restrictions on the bank, preventing it from opening new deposit accounts for anyone categorised as “high risk”. According to a spokesperson of Al Rayan Bank, the bank has voluntarily agreed to place a temporary restriction on new deposit accounts for certain people after discussions with the financial authority. “UK regulators regularly review financial institutions’ systems and processes. We continue to work with them to constantly improve our capability in this critical area”, the spokesman said.
The bank’s client list included groups accused of links to extremists like Finsbury Park Mosque, The Nectar Trust, The Qatar Charity and The Ummah Welfare Trust, all of whom have been dropped by HSBC.
The Birmingham based bank is meeting all its legal and regulatory requirements and the clients are lawfully entitled to operate in the UK. However, under its counter-terrorism laws, the UK has the power to freeze accounts it believes are linked to terrorism.
Under the Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing and Transfer of Funds Regulations 2017, there is an onus on banks to exercise appropriate due diligence in deciding on clients, at the risk of multimillion-pound fines.
Date: 26 August 2019
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