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FSA fines GBP6.89m on Willis

BBR Staff Writer Published 22 July 2011

Financial Services Authority (FSA) of UK has fined GBP6.89m on insurance broker Willis for failings in its anti-bribery and corruption systems and controls.

The Watchdog said the failings created an unacceptable risk that payments made by Willis to overseas third parties could be used for corrupt purposes.

This is the biggest fine imposed by it in relation to financial crime systems and controls to date, FSA said.

The regulator said between January 2005 and December 2009, Willis made payments of GBP27m to overseas third parties who had assisted in winning and retaining business for the Willis, particularly in high risk jurisdictions.

It also found that Willis failed to establish and record an adequate commercial rationale to support its payments to overseas third parties, until August 2008.

According to the FSA, the Willis failed to ensure that adequate due diligence was carried out on overseas third parties to evaluate the risk involved in doing business with them; and in taking proper review of its relationships on a regular basis in order to continue the relationship.

FSA further said the Willis had failed to undertake adequate due diligence on the third parties and record adequate commercial rationale for the payments, while engaging its staff with them, during January 2005 and May 2009.

During the FSA investigation, Willis identified as suspicious a number of payments totaling $227,000 which it made to two overseas third parties in respect of business carried out in Egypt and Russia. These were subsequently reported to the Serious Organised Crime Agency.

FSA acting director of enforcement and financial crime Tracey McDermott said Willis failed to take the appropriate steps to ensure that payments it was making to overseas third parties were not being used for corrupt purposes.