Italian court confirms ING new customer ban in money laundering case

ROME, Jan 16 (Reuters) - An Italian court on Thursday backed a decision last year by supervisors at the Bank of Italy prohibiting Dutch lender ING from taking on new customers in Italy over a money laundering case.

The central bank also ordered the lender to remove its Italian CEO.

The Bank of Italy measure, taken in March 2019, followed several inspections that had showed ING Italy did not do enough to prevent money laundering transactions through its accounts.

ING appealed against the decision, but the Lazio Regional Administrative Court rejected its plea on Thursday.

The court ruled ING’s appeal was “totally groundless”, acknowledging the legitimacy of Bank of Italy’s action.

ING Italia’s former CEO Marco Bragadin argued the Bank of Italy “did not take account of corrective measures already taken” by ING and said his forced replacement was based on “an extremely strict assessment of the facts”.

ING, the Netherlands’ largest financial services provider, admitted in 2018 that criminals had been able to launder money through its accounts and agreed to pay 775 million euros ($865 million) to settle the case in its home country.

Following investigations, the Bank of Italy told ING it was not allowed to take on new customers in Italy after failing to prevent money laundering transactions through its accounts.

$1 = 0.8965 euros Reporting by Domenico Lusi, written by Francesca Piscioneri, editing by James Mackenzie and Mark Potter