NatWest is to pay £265 million in fines, after pleading guilty to failing to prevent the laundering of nearly £400 million.

The fine, issued as a sentence today, caps a landmark case in which NatWest became the first bank to be criminally prosecuted in Britain for an offence of this kind.

The headline fine of £365 million was deducted as a result of the lender's guilty plea.

A criminal gang deposited hundreds of millions of pounds in cash at up to 50 branches of NatWest, prosecutors for Britain's financial regulator said today.

At least one individual outlet received more than £40m, the prosecutors added.

Couriers walked through the streets of British towns such as Walsall carrying bags of cash they then deposited at the bank's branches before the scheme was busted by police, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) told a judge ahead of sentencing.

One person in Walsall arrived at a branch with so much cash in bin bags that they broke and the money had to be repacked, the FCA said.

NatWest, which owns Ulster Bank here, is Britain's biggest business bank and is still majority taxpayer-owned after a more than £45 billion state bailout during the financial crisis.

The FCA said NatWest failed to monitor suspect activity by a client that deposited about £365m over five years, including £264m in cash.

The bank had previously pleaded guilty in October to three criminal charges of not adequately monitoring customer accounts between 2012 and 2016.

The customer was Fowler Oldfield, a Bradford-based gold dealer and jeweller liquidated after a police raid in 2016.