FCA may step-up inspections of China banks - Caixin

The logo of the new Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is seen at the agency's headquarters in the Canary Wharf business district of London April 1, 2013. REUTERS/Chris Helgren

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Britain’s finance regulator may ramp up financial crime inspections at the London branches of two of China’s biggest banks, with a focus on money laundering and anti-corruption, the Chinese magazine Caixin quoted unidentified sources as saying.

China’s banks have been dogged by allegations of lax compliance and money laundering in their European branches over the last year.

The Financial Conduct Authority, or FCA, plans to strengthen inspections at the London branches of China’s largest lender, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), and China Construction Bank Corp (CCB), Caixin said on Tuesday.

The inspections would focus on areas such as anti-money laundering and anti-corruption, it added.

Spokesmen for CCB and ICBC declined to comment when contacted by telephone.

A spokesman for the FCA also declined to comment.

Spanish police arrested five directors of ICBC after they raided the lender’s Madrid offices as part of an investigation into alleged money laundering in February.

Bank of China said in March it is considering all its options in an Italian case in which it is alleged that billions of euros of illicit earnings were laundered through its Milan branch.

Reporting by Engen Tham in Shanghai and Shu Zhang in Beijing; Additional reporting by Simon Jessop in London; Editing by Kim Coghill