Ajay Kanwal, Standard Chartered’s Asean CEO, resigns over disclosure lapse

Ajay Kanwal says some of his disclosures about investments in businesses outside the bank didn’t meet Standard Chartered’s ‘very high standards’


In 24 years with the bank, Ajay Kanwal’s roles included managing operations in Korea, Taiwan and Mongolia as a regional CEO. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint
In 24 years with the bank, Ajay Kanwal’s roles included managing operations in Korea, Taiwan and Mongolia as a regional CEO. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint

Singapore/Mumbai: Ajay Kanwal, the head of Standard Chartered Plc’s Asean and South Asian operations, left the bank after failing to disclose some details of his past personal investments.

Kanwal said some of his disclosures about investments in businesses outside the bank didn’t meet the company’s “very high standards,” according to a statement from the lender on Monday. “Though I do not own these investments any more, as a senior leader my actions should be beyond reproach,” Standard Chartered cited him as saying.

Kanwal couldn’t be reached through his office phone in Singapore.

In memos to staff this year, chief executive officer Bill Winters said the bank would take a “zero tolerance” policy on compliance issues after discovering transgressions concerning some employees’ outside business interests, close financial dealings with co-workers and excessive expenses.

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Kanwal’s investments hadn’t affected clients or the economic interest of the bank, Winters said in Monday’s statement. There was no legal or regulatory breach, the bank said in a separate e-mail to Bloomberg News.

In 24 years with the bank, Kanwal’s roles included managing operations in Korea, Taiwan and Mongolia as a regional CEO, according to a profile on the bank’s website. He also helped to set up its private bank franchise in Singapore.

He’ll be replaced by Anna Marrs, who’s already heading up commercial and private banking. Marrs will take the additional role subject to regulatory approval, the bank said.

Saddled in the past with fines for alleged money-laundering compliance failures and sanctions violations involving Iran, Standard Chartered is trying to alter a culture where some senior managers have “willfully disregarded our policies,” according to a memo from Winters to staff in April, which was titled #knowtherules. Bloomberg

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