Standard Chartered to hire financial crime compliance staff in Middle East

Standard Chartered and HSBC have launched a fresh round of hiring for their compliance functions in the UAE and wider Middle East, as the banks seek to increase their capacity to identify potential money laundering and sanctions-busting activity under pressure from US regulators.

StanChart is hiring a head of sanctions for the Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan to ensure the bank’s work complies with sanctions requirements, as well as a regional head of learning and training within financial crime compliance, and other staff within compliance, according to postings on LinkedIn.

HSBC meanwhile launched a search this week on LinkedIn for a series of positions related to compliance and money laundering in Dubai, including a senior regulatory compliance manager based in its offices in Emaar Square. The bank is understood to also be recruiting in the wider region.

A spokesman for StanChart told Reuters it continued to build on its investments in legal and regulatory capabilities. “We have a significant programme of work under way to enhance our capabilities, systems and controls around financial crime,” he said.

An HSBC spokeswoman declined to comment on the new hires in the Middle East. The bank had brought on more than 2,200 compliance employees globally during the first half of the year.

StanChart last month announced the appointment of several high-profile compliance recruits in London, New York and Dubai, including Carmel Speers as its new Dubai-based head of financial crime compliance for the Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan.

The new hires follow the departure of staff from other parts of StanChart’s business in the region earlier this year. Viswanathan Shankar, chief executive of Europe, Middle East, Africa and Americas, resigned, while Christos Papadopoulos will stand down this month from his position as regional chief executive of the Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan.

“Such increases in staff are almost certainly reactive in nature, in the wake of what the banks have gone through with authorities,” said a UAE-based compliance specialist, who asked not to be named.

StanChart has had a tough time with US and New York authorities since being fined three years ago for sanctions-related violations. Deferred prosecution agreements from the 2012 deals remain in effect, and US prosecutors are still investigating potential violations.

HSBC agreed in December 2012 to pay US$1.9 billion in fines to US authorities, after authorities accused the bank of failing to maintain effective anti-money laundering controls and violating sanctions law.

The Sunday Times reported last month that the US justice department is investigating allegations that StanChart’s Dubai office employed a team of fluent Farsi speakers in the emirate between 2009 and 2011, who were allegedly tasked with drumming up business with Iranian clients.

The justice department said in June that HSBC’s procedures to prevent money laundering and sanctions-breaking still had serious deficiencies.* with additional reporting by Reuters

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