05 Sep 2019
HM Revenue and Customs has levied a £7.8-million fine against a West London-based money services business (MSB) for failing to implement compliance controls intended to prevent financial crime.
Between June 2017 and September 2018, Touma Foreign Exchange Ltd failed to implement anti-money laundering (AML) policies, controls and procedures, including “fundamental” customer due diligence controls, risk assessments and related staff training, according to a statement published Wednesday by HMRC.
Hassanien Touma, cited in incorporation in a 2010 incorporation document as the MSB’s founder and first director, was banned in May from serving in any managerial role at a company regulated for AML purposes following his failure to be vetted as “fit and proper” to serve as an officer for an MSB.
Since the resignation of 34-year-old Hassanien Touma as director in 2014, the MSB has appointed four officers, three of which have resigned. In documentation filed with Companies House, the business cites 59-year-old Zouhury Touma as the sole individual wielding significant control over the money transfer company.
Wednesday’s fine follows a separate monthlong crackdown by the Financial Conduct Authority, Metropolitan Police and HMRC on MSBs deemed to be at risk of money laundering linked to organised crime, including drug traffickers and terrorists.
In July, UK officials executed 12 warrants targeting MSBs believed to be involved in laundering drug proceeds and visited another 40 firms to conduct AML compliance checks, the Metropolitan Police said that month. The crackdown led to the arrest of two men and the seizure of £100,000 in cash that was intended as payment via an unregistered MSB.
“We know that criminals use MSBs to disguise and move dirty money, and we’re determined to thwart them by helping businesses avoid being exploited in this way,” said Simon York, the director of HMRC’s Fraud Investigation Service, in a statement Wednesday.
“This record fine shows we mean business, so get your house in order before we come knocking,” he said.
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