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South Africa fines 5 lenders over weaknesses in anti-money laundering controls

The South African central bank fined five local lenders — Standard Bank Group Ltd. unit Standard Bank of South Africa Ltd., Grobank Ltd., Ubank Ltd., Bank of China Ltd. Johannesburg Branch and HBZ Bank Ltd. — a combined total of roughly 37.5 million rand after identifying shortcomings in the banks' controls against money laundering.

Of the total penalties, 30 million rand was imposed on Standard Bank of South Africa, which was also ordered to take corrective actions for failing to comply with regulatory requirements for the reporting of suspicious and unusual transactions. The lender noted that it has taken immediate action to address the identified issues and is tracking and reporting the progress to the central bank on a regular basis.

GroBank, formerly known as South African Bank of Athens Ltd., Bank of China - Johannesburg Branch and Ubank were fined 5 million rand, 2 million rand and 500,000 rand, respectively, for failure to comply reporting requirements regarding cash thresholds. The central bank warned HBZ Bank not to repeat its noncompliance for the reporting of suspicious and unusual transactions.

The regulator noted that the fines on Standard Bank of South Africa, GroBank and Bank of China - Johannesburg Branch have been suspended for three years from Sept. 25, Aug. 13, and Aug. 21, respectively, subject to the lenders meeting certain conditions imposed by the central bank.

The central bank added that none of the banks were found to have facilitated transactions involving money laundering or terrorism financing.