Santander fined millions for probate failings

Santander has been fined more than £32 million for “serious failings” in its probate and bereavement process, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has revealed.

In a report published last month, the regulator said the bank had failed to effectively process the accounts and investments of deceased customers.

In total, Santander did not transfer funds totalling over £183 million to beneficiaries when it should have done, affecting around 40,428 customers.

It added that the bank also “failed to disclose information relating to the issues with the probate and bereavement process to the FCA after it became aware of them”.

Likewise, the FCA found that, 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 report reads: “Santander breached Principle 3 and Principle 6 between 1 January 2013 and 11 July 2016 by failing to take reasonable care to organise and control its probate and bereavement process responsibly and effectively, with adequate risk management systems, and by failing to treat its customers and those who represented them on their death fairly.”

It is believed that thousands of customers have been paid interest to compensate for the delay in receiving the funds, as well as compensation for any consequential loss that was suffered.

Commenting on the report, Mark Steward, Executive Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight at the FCA, said Santander took too long to identify its failings and then far too long to fix them.

“Firms must be able to identify and respond to problems more quickly especially when they are causing harm to customers. The FCA will continue to be on the lookout for firms with poor systems and controls and will take action to deter such failings to ensure customers are properly protected.”