Fines levied by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) fell over 2018, after 12 months without many big ticket penalties.
The UK financial watchdog levied £60.5m of fines in 2018 down from the £228.5m over the previous year, according to The Times. A substantial factor that inflated 2017's total was the fine against Deutsche Bank for £163m over money laundering rules. The record year for fines is still 2014 when the total reached £1.47bn, as banks were punished for Libor interest rate rigging.
"We remain committed to investigating and holding firms and individuals to account for misconduct and ensuring wrongdoers pay for the costs of remediation," the FCA said, adding it was "doing more enforcement, not less".
"Over the last year alone there has been a significant increase, of 75%, in the number of investigations we have commenced,"it added.
Santander was handed the largest fine in 2018, of £32.8m for failing to transfer millions to the beneficiaries of the wills of deceased customers
The bank didn't transfer funds totaling £183m to beneficiaries when it should have, affecting 40,428 customers, the regulator said Wednesday. The bank also failed to disclose information to the FCA about issues with the probate and bereavement process when it became aware of them.
Santander said in a statement that it apologizes to the families and beneficiaries of the customers. It's now transferred most of the funds in the effected accounts to the right beneficiaries and paid compensatory interest, it said, and has improved its systems.
"These failings took too long to be identified and then far too long to be fixed," said Mark Steward, the FCA's executive director of enforcement and market oversight. "To the firm's credit, once these problems were notified to the board and senior management, they were fixed properly and promptly."