Economy, Business And Markets

StanChart Hires Ex-US Prosecutors

StanChart Hires Ex-US ProsecutorsStanChart Hires Ex-US Prosecutors

Standard Chartered Plc. has hired two former prosecutors to police its transactions for criminal activity, a spokesman said on Friday, as the British bank wrestles with a series of legal and compliance problems, Reuters reported.

The hiring in the past two months coincide with a federal probe of Standard Chartered’s past compliance with sanctions laws, the latest in a string of legal issues it has faced, including some with US anti-money laundering laws.

In late November, Standard Chartered hired Vincent G. Heintz, a former assistant director of the enforcement and investigations division of US audit watchdog Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB), to lead its US financial crimes compliance investigations unit, said bank spokesman Chris Teo.

This month, it hired former federal prosecutor Evan Weitz, an expert on US money laundering law, to serve as Heintz’s deputy, Teo added.

In 2012, the bank paid US authorities, including New York state’s banking regulator, $667 million over sanctions violations involving Iran and other countries.

In August of this year, the New York regulator fined Standard Chartered another $300 million after a monitor it appointed uncovered shortcomings in the automated monitoring systems the bank relies on to detect money laundering and other criminal activity.

Standard Chartered hired Heintz and Weitz to lead US investigators probing transactions flagged by frontline employees and software systems to determine if the activity is truly suspicious – possibly linked to criminal activity – and therefore must be reported to authorities.

The two new investigators will work in the bank’s offices in New Jersey and Manhattan.

Heintz previously served as a prosecutor with the New York County District Attorney’s Office where he combated organized crime, money laundering and terrorism finance.

Weitz, the recipient of several awards for his prosecution of financial institutions that violated the Bank Secrecy Act, the primary US anti-money laundering law, is best known for his participation in the prosecution of HSBC.

HSBC in 2012 agreed to pay $1.9 billion for compliance lapses that led to violations of US sanctions against Iran and allowed drug cartels to launder hundreds of millions of dollars.

That case prompted Congress to step up pressure on regulators to better hold banks, and bankers, to account for compliance lapses.