Qatari-owned British bank faces probe over money laundering

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People pass by Al Rayan Bank branch. — Courtesy photo

DUBAI — A Qatari-owned British bank is under investigation over money laundering, The Times reported on Thursday, saying that the bank provides financial services to numerous Islamist-linked organizations.

Al-Rayan Bank’s operation has been restricted until the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) reaches an outcome on the investigation, according to the British daily newspaper.

The bank, whose largest shareholders are Qatari state institutions, is the oldest and largest Islamic bank in the UK.

Qatar has long been criticized for its support of Palestinian militant group Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, in addition to being accused of funding terrorism.

The Times had revealed in an earlier report that the bank’s British account holders include a charity banned in the US as a terrorist entity and a mosque whose trustee was a member of Hamas.

“Al Rayan counts among its customers a charity banned in the US as a terrorist entity, groups that promote hardline preachers and a mosque whose long-term trustee is a Hamas leader,” The Times reported in its investigation.

Using publicly available records, The Times drafted a list of organizations which have an Al Rayan bank account, including pressure groups, charities, mosques, and funders of satellite TV channels.

Al-Rayan provides Shariah compliant retail banking services to more than 85,000 customers.

Until the investigation is over, the FCA requires the bank not to open new deposit accounts for those categorized as “high risk for the purposes of financial crime risk,” the newspaper says, adding that the bank must also reject any applications from “politically exposed persons (PEPs)” or people close to them. — Al Arabiya English


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