Lessons from Danske Bank CCO: Four pillars to successful remediation

Satnam Lehal 3x2

If you work for an organization ordered by a regulator to remediate compliance and financial crime program issues, Danske Bank Chief Compliance Officer Satnam Lehal can relate.

In December, Danske Bank reached final resolutions with Danish authorities, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Securities and Exchange Commission to address the compliance issues that allowed hundreds of billions of dollars of illicit funds to be funneled through its Estonia branch from 2007-16. Danske Bank closed its Estonia branch in 2019.

In response, Danske Bank has spent an estimated 12 billion Danish kroner (U.S. $1.7 billion) improving its financial crime program. The bank expanded its financial crime team to 3,600 full-time employees. For four years, Danske Bank has been overhauling its internal control, compliance, and financial crime functions.

Lehal joined Danske Bank in July 2019 as head of financial crime compliance and became CCO in November 2021. He announced earlier this year he will leave the bank in January. Lehal spoke with Compliance Week about lessons learned from addressing deficiencies in the bank’s compliance program while at the same time managing the expectations of regulators in two continents, the bank’s board, employees, customers, analysts, investors, and the public.

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