Global financial institutions were fined $5.6 billion for non-compliance with anti-money laundering and related regulations in the first seven months of the year.

That's according to the latest calculation from Fenergo, a Dublin-headquartered company that provides digital services to financial institutions around the world.

Financial institutions in the US, Sweden, Germany and Israel were hit hardest by fines, the figures show.

Regulators in Malaysia issued two of the biggest enforcement actions in the year to date.

The regulator reached a settlement with Goldman Sachs that included a $2.5 billion penalty and the guaranteed return of $1.4 billion in assets. 

The bank was fined for its role in the theft of billions of dollars from a Malaysian sovereign investment fund, also known as the 1Malaysia Development Berhad scandal (1MDB scandal).

"We can expect to see additional penalties issued in response to the 1MDB scandal as the US Department of Justice investigation remains open," Rachel Woolley, Global Director of Financial Crime at Fenergo said.

Three Swedish banks were fined $536 million collectively for lacking sufficient AML (anti-money laundering) governance and controls in the Baltic states. 

In addition, a fine of $150 million was issued by the New York State Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) to a German bank for its links to the late financier, Jeffrey Epstein.

Here, a €1.66 million fine was levied on Bank of Ireland by the Central Bank following a cyber-fraud incident that occurred in September 2014. 

Acting on instructions from a fraudster impersonating a client, Bank of Ireland Private Banking Limited - a former subsidiary of the bank - made two payments to a third party account totalling €106,430.

Overall, the value of fines issued was down 30% on the same period last year.

However, Ms Woolley said it was likely that the total enforcement actions issued in 2020 will be on par with, if not surpass, the 2019 total of almost $8.4 billion.

"Although regulatory and supervisory activity may have been impacted by COVID-19, global regulators have reinforced the importance of vigilance and reporting of suspicious activity to ensure the detection and prevention of financial crime throughout the pandemic," she added.