Santander UK fined for poor handling of deceased customers’ funds

Santander UK plc has been fined millions of pounds for failing to effectively process the accounts and investments of customers who had died.

Santander did not transfer funds totalling over £183 million to beneficiaries when it should have done, which has resulted in a £32.8 million (€36.5 million) fine for the company.

The delay affected 40,428 customers and took “too long” to be identified.

Part of Santander’s fine is also for failing to disclose information relating to issues with the probate and bereavement process to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) after becoming aware of them.

Mark Steward, executive director of enforcement and market oversight at the FCA, said the failings took too long to be identified and then “far too long” to be fixed.

However, once the problems were notified to the board and senior management of Santander, they were fixed “properly and promptly”.

“Firms must be able to identify and respond to problems more quickly especially when they are causing harm to customers,” said Steward.

Weaknesses within Santander’s probate and bereavement process meant the company had a reduced ability to effectively identify all funds held which formed part of a deceased customer’s estate, and it was not able to effectively follow-up on communications with deceased customer representatives. That lack of ability increased the likelihood of probate and bereavement cases not being closed.

In some cases, funds were held for many years contributing to beneficiaries being deprived of the use of them for a considerable amount of time, the FCA said.

Santander has paid interest on the funds to beneficiaries, where appropriate, to compensate them for delays in receiving funds, together with other compensation.

©2018 funds europe

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