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Rediff News  All News  » Business » HSBC taps ex-Homeland Security agent for anti money-laundering role

HSBC taps ex-Homeland Security agent for anti money-laundering role

Last updated on: February 27, 2014 10:43 IST

Photographs: Punit Paranjpe/Reuters Brett Wolf in St. Louis

HSBC Holdings has named a former agent of the Department of Homeland Security and expert on high-risk clients to head a US anti-money laundering operation being revamped after the bank paid a record fine over compliance lapses.

Daniel Wager, who helped investigate HSBC for the federal agency, joined the HSBC's anti-money laundering team last November as a senior vice-president.

He assumed his new post this week, a spokesman for the bank told Compliance Complete.

Wager has gained prominence as an authority on anti money-laundering issues.

Before joining HSBC he headed TD Bank Group's global enhanced due diligence unit, overseeing the handling of high-risk clients.

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HSBC taps ex-Homeland Security agent for anti money-laundering role

Image: HSBC office in Mumbai.
Photographs: Arko Datta/Reuters

In his new role at HSBC's US unit, Wager is to oversee AML compliance across all business lines.

Prior to entering the private sector in August 2011, Wager was a supervisory special agent with Homeland Security's investigations arm and led a New York-based, multi-agency financial intelligence unit.

Among other things, Wager played a role in probing AML lapses at HSBC, sources familiar with his background said.

In December 2012, the bank paid to US authorities what was then a record fine of $1.9 billion to resolve charges that it failed to stop hundreds of millions of dollars in drug money from flowing through the bank from Mexico, and promised at the time to fix AML lapses.

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HSBC taps ex-Homeland Security agent for anti money-laundering role

Image: The Angel of Independence monument stands in front of HSBC's headquarters in Mexico City.
Photographs: Tomas Bravo/Reuters

The US government has led a crackdown on financial institutions that fail to adequately guard against improper transactions.

Despite a number of high-profile hires, HSBC has struggled to convince US regulators that the AML controls surrounding correspondent banking, one of its riskiest and most profitable lines of business, are in order.

Two top legal officials at HSBC's US arm, anti-money laundering director Alan Schienberg and chief compliance officer Gary Peterson, left in November amid HSBC's compliance overhaul.

HSBC recently hired former JPMorgan executive Jessica Gomel in a new position, global head of financial crime compliance for correspondent banking, to try to bolster its ability to police currency clearing and other activity.

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HSBC taps ex-Homeland Security agent for anti money-laundering role

Image: HSBC's branch in St Helier, Jersey.
Photographs: Stefan Wermuth/Reuters

Wager is positioned to support that effort, the sources said.

As part of a restructuring that relies on regional heads of ‘financial crimes compliance’ to police transactions, HSBC last month hired former Bank of America executive Patty O'Connor to be its US regional head.

Wager will report to O'Connor as well as Peter Hazlewood, HSBC's London-based global head of AML.

(This article was produced by the Compliance Complete service of Thomson Reuters Accelus).

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