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Pedestrians wearing face masks pass the Bank of England in London on March 11, 2020.

Matt Dunham/The Associated Press

Britain’s banks must make the fight against dirty money a “top priority” or risk facing more severe fines, Bank of England Deputy Governor Sam Woods said on Tuesday.

Global banks, including UK-based HSBC, Barclays and Standard Chartered, face a fresh scandal about dirty money after a cache of leaked documents showed they transferred more than $2 trillion in suspect funds over nearly two decades.

Woods said it was vital that banks play their part in fighting financial crime as the leaks were a good reminder of how criminals will use the financial system for their own ends.

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“If the banks get this wrong, then costs for them are very severe, as you have seen in recent years the big fines here in the UK and in the U.S.,” Woods told Bloomberg TV.

“They have been doing a lot but they’ll need to do more, and unfortunately this is one of those things that the job is never done.”

Banks have been investing hugely in anti-money laundering controls over the past five years, he said.

“I am not sure that we need new rules at this point,” Woods said.

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