| HOLLYWOOD, FL/WASHINGTON, March 17
HOLLYWOOD, FL/WASHINGTON, March 17 Big banks
should designate senior managers to oversee efforts to police
transactions for criminal activity and take responsibility when
lapses occur, a top U.S. financial regulator said on Monday.
Comptroller of the Currency Thomas Curry said "murky" lines
of accountability at the biggest banks in the United States have
prevented regulators from determining who was to blame for major
anti-money laundering compliance failures.
"Management at large banks needs to eliminate these accreted
compliance weaknesses so that institutional structural flaws do
not become an excuse for a lack of accountability," Curry said
on Monday to a group of anti-money laundering specialists.
Compliance with these rules has become a hot issue after
London-based HSBC Holdings agreed to pay $1.9 billion
in 2012 to settle claims it flouted rules to prevent money
laundering and transactions with countries under U.S. sanctions.
JPMorgan Chase last year settled charges it ignored
anti-money laundering laws in its dealings with convicted Ponzi
schemer Bernard Madoff, and Citigroup is now facing a
probe relating to its Mexico affiliate.
As a result, compliance experts are in high demand.
Recruiters say the need at big banks outstrips the supply of
Overall, Curry said regulators have seen improvements in
compliance efforts at the biggest banks. Many of them have added
resources and people to transaction-monitoring operations.
After his speech, Curry said that the person with final
responsibility should be higher up in the organization, "someone
with stature who can effect meaningful change."
He would not speculate on how that person could be held
accountable for lapses and said the change should be made
through the supervision process, not by regulatory rule making.