Retail and commercial bank Santander has been fined nearly £33m by the Financial Conduct Authority for not closing the accounts of deceased customers.
The failure of the bereavement team to “effectively process the accounts and investments of deceased customers” impacted over 40,000 accounts according to the FCA report, and resulted in over £183m being left undistributed.
Furthermore, Santander did not disclose these issues to the FCA when they had come to light. Mark Steward of the FCA said “These findings took too long to be identified and then far too long to be fixed”. The bank breached FCA Principles when it “failed to take reasonable care to organize and control its probate and bereavement process responsibly and effectively…and by failing to treat its customers and those who represented them on their death fairly”.
Santander agreed to settle early on in the FCA investigation, allowing them to qualify for a 30% discount in the financial penalty, which would have otherwise exceeded £46.8m.
In a 49 page Final Notice, the FCA reports that Santander cooperated well during the course of the investigation, but had failed to heed previous criticism levied for inadequate communication with the FCA.
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