Money-Laundering Crackdown Spurs Hiring by British Banks

U.K. banks have made a push to hire more anti-money laundering staff as regulatory scrutiny grows, with a 54 percent increase in the number of roles available over the last year, according to a recruitment firm.

More than 2,157 anti-laundering positions were created by commercial banks in the year through June and pay is up 17 percent, according to BrightPool. Most of the posts are for contractors, who can earn 1,500 pounds ($2,503) a day, the agency said.

The Financial Conduct Authority fined Standard Bank Plc, the U.K. subsidiary of Africa’s largest lender, 7.6 million pounds in January for failures in anti-money-laundering controls penalty. It was the first penalty by the British markets regulator -- which also recently got authority to levy higher fines for these types of cases -- against a commercial bank.

U.S. authorities have a longer history of penalizing banks for inadequate measures to protect against money laundering. Standard Chartered Plc faces a second penalty from the New York banking regulator, who is seeking more than $100 million, the bank said this month. It was fined $340 million two years ago after Benjamin Lawsky, superintendent of New York’s Department of Financial Services, accused the bank at the time of helping Iran launder about $250 billion. HSBC Holdings Plc, Europe’s largest bank, paid $1.92 billion to settle similar accusations with the U.S. involving Mexico in 2012.

Banks are undertaking “systematic reviews of how they check for money laundering,” said Angela Hickmore, managing director at BrightPool. “Regulators in the U.K. and around the world have already shown that they are willing to take a stick to those banks that fail in this area, so banks need to take this extremely seriously.”

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