Dutch bank ING saw its full year profits dented by a costly money laundering scandal but ended 2018 with better-than-expected earnings in the fourth quarter.
The financial services group reported net profit of €4.7bn (£4.13bn) for the year, a 4.1 per cent increase on 2017, despite paying €775m to settle a court case after admitting criminals had been able to launder money through its accounts.
After paying the fine in the third quarter, the bank finished the year with a flourish, reporting €1.27bn earnings in the fourth quarter – a 25 per cent increase on the same period in 2017.
The rise was driven by higher commission and fee income, the bank said.
“This past year has been filled with both achievements to be proud of and challenges to overcome and learn from,” chief executive Ralph Hamers said.
“The organisation continues to work hard on enhancing our customer due diligence files and on a number of structural solutions to bring our anti-money laundering activities to a sustainably better level.”
In September the Dutch bank was fined €775m after admitting criminals had been able to launder money through its accounts.
After settling the case the company said its shortcomings had allowed money laundering practices to be carried out “for years.”
However, the scandal did not deter new customers as the bank’s global customer base grew by one million to 38.4m over the year, it said today in its results.
Hamers said ING had stepped up its cost-saving measures towards the end of the year but said further cost discipline was needed, citing possible increases in regulatory costs, lower lending growth and “challenging” financial markets.