HSBC loses senior anti-money laundering compliance executive

The HSBC headquarters is seen in the Canary Wharf financial district in east London February 15, 2015.

A senior player in HSBC’s push to improve the way it polices transactions for criminal activity left the British bank late last month, creating a possible gap in leadership as it seeks to satisfy compliance demands from U.S. regulators and the U.S. Department of Justice.

Daniel Wager, a former Homeland Security official with prior experience helping another multinational bank improve compliance controls, left his post as regional head of anti-money laundering investigations last month to join a consulting venture. Thus far, a replacement has not been named, a source familiar with the matter said.

Wager was HSBC’s (HSBA.L) top U.S. anti-money laundering executive until early this year when he was replaced by Mary Squire, formerly head of sanctions and anti-money laundering at the Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS.L).

Wager and Polly Greenberg, who last month also left her job as chief of the major economic crime bureau at the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, started a New York regulatory compliance practice for Kinetic Partners, a division of financial advisory andinvestment banking firm Duff & Phelps Corp.

HSBC spokesman Rob Sherman declined to comment on Wager’s departure.

HSBC paid nearly $2 billion in penalties in December 2012 to resolve charges that it failed to stop hundreds of millions of dollars in drug money from flowing through the bank fromMexico, and it promised to fix the problems.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and the Justice Department are closely tracking the bank’s steps. Spokesmen for both declined comment on Wager’s departure.

The government chose former New York prosecutor Michael Cherkasky to monitor HSBC’s compliance remediation efforts. His reports have cited issues with the bank’s progress to date.

In April 2014, after reviewing a report by Cherkasky, the Justice Department said in a mandatory court filing in federal court in Brooklyn that there remains “much work to be done.”

In a court filing earlier this month, the Justice Department said Cherkasky “continues to identify specific areas of HSBC Group’s AML and sanctions compliance program where further remediation is required.”

It added that the bank “continues to work to address and remediate these areas.”

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