FSA warns over lax bank controls

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The City watchdog is considering punishing two banks after it found serious lapses in their checks on politically sensitive potential money launderers.

The Financial Services Authority said yesterday that some banks had risked handling criminal money rather than turn away business from wealthy high-risk customers.

The FSA said three quarters of banks sampled did not do enough to make sure customers’ wealth was legitimate and that they knew where the money was coming from.

Tracey McDermott, acting enforcement head at the FSA, promised a clampdown. She said: “We expect major improvements in banks’ systems, controls and decision making. We are determined the UK banking system should be clean and not a place for criminals to launder money.”