Thursday 19 October 2017

Charlie Weston: Bold boy of banking has done it again

At one stage AIB’s anti-money laundering unit had a backlog of 4,200 alerts it should have reported to the gardaí and Revenue (Stock picture)
At one stage AIB’s anti-money laundering unit had a backlog of 4,200 alerts it should have reported to the gardaí and Revenue (Stock picture)
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

AIB is a bank that just can't seem to keep its nose clean. The rap sheet includes the collapse of the Insurance Corporation of Ireland in the 1980s, the John Rusnak trading scandal in its US unit, DIRT tax evasion issues and excess foreign exchange charging.

Then there is the writing off of former Taoiseach Charles Haughey's debts, and lately it has been found to have denied thousands of customers tracker mortgages.

Not content with costing us taxpayers almost €21bn to bail it out from 2010 on, it now emerges that the bank could not even carry out basic anti-money laundering reporting functions.

The rules around how banks and other financial institutions report suspicious transactions to the gardaí and the Revenue Commissioners have been around since 1995.

That AIB, the biggest bank in the State, was found to have egregiously breached the regulations on anti-money laundering is farcical.

AIB has 2.6 million customers, and almost 300 branches, business centres and offices between it and EBS.

As a retail bank it is at the forefront of the financial system so it beggars belief that its systems for dealing with suspicious transactions were so shoddy.

At one stage AIB's anti-money laundering unit had a backlog of 4,200 alerts it should have reported to the gardaí and Revenue. It took the bank 18 months to clear the backlog.

There is no evidence of anyone losing money, or any money laundering occurring through the bank.

Ulster Bank was fined over failures around anti-money laundering a few months ago.

Others that have been fined include small credit unions, Bray, Drimnagh and Community.

Some excuses can be made for credit unions not being up to speed on how to handle suspicious transactions.

AIB, on the other hand, can offer no such excuse. It has failed miserably, again.

Irish Independent

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