Earnings fell by 4.1 percent to 4.7 billion euros ($5.4 billion) last year despite growth in its client base, Dutch bank ING said (EVERT ELZINGA)

The Hague (AFP) – Dutch bank ING posted Wednesday a slight fall in profits for 2018 following a multi-million-euro settlement with Netherlands authorities in a money laundering investigation.

Earnings fell by 4.1 percent to 4.7 billion euros ($5.4 billion) last year despite growth in its client base, the Amsterdam-based lender said in a statement.

In September ING paid a huge 775 million euros to settle a criminal investigation into money laundering which found that ING had failed to take adequate measures to prevent money laundering.

“This past year has been filled with both achievements to be proud of and challenges to overcome and learn from,” said ING chief executive officer Ralph Hamers.

He said the bank was pushing ahead with a “know your customer” programme to ensure similar lapses did not happen in future.

Despite the scandal, ING said it had expanded its client base by one million customers in 2018 to reach 38.4 million worldwide

ING posted a 2.2 percent rise in turnover for 2018 to 18 billion euros.

The money-laundering row saw ING axe its chief financial officer Koos Timmermans after a two-year probe by Dutch authorities that found many white-collar crime suspects held accounts at the bank.

The case threatened to seriously damage ING’s reputation and triggered calls for the resignation of its directors.

ING employs more than 52,000 people in 40 countries around the world.

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