The chief compliance officer of Danske Bank announced he will leave the bank in early 2024 after playing a pivotal role in helping steer it through the aftermath of one of the world’s largest money laundering scandals.
“We have achieved a huge amount since I joined in summer 2019, and I look forward to leading our continued progress over the next 12 months,” Satnam Lehal said in a post on his LinkedIn page Monday.
Danske Bank declined to confirm Lehal’s departure and whether it has begun searching for his replacement.
“We do not comment on employee changes at this level,” a bank spokesperson said in an emailed statement.
Lehal joined Danske Bank as its head of financial crime compliance in July 2019. He was promoted to chief compliance officer in November 2021, when former CCO Philippe Vollot was named chief administrative officer in charge of the bank’s compliance, financial crime prevention, and financial crime risk divisions.
Vollot resigned in June and has since joined Rabobank as its chief financial economic crime officer.
Lehal has been a key figure in the Danish bank’s upgrade of its compliance systems following the revelation hundreds of billions of dollars of illicit funds were funneled through its small Estonia branch from 2007-16. Customers included individuals and nations sanctioned by the United States, a violation of U.S. rules that led to scrutiny from the country’s regulators.
In December, Danske Bank reached final resolutions with U.S. and Danish authorities to settle allegations regarding the widespread anti-money laundering (AML) deficiencies at its Estonia branch. The bank agreed to a settlement total of 15.3 billion Danish kroner (then-U.S. $2.2 billion) and pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud as part of its resolution with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).
Danske Bank was placed on probation by the DOJ for three years but was not required to retain a compliance monitor. It must appoint an independent compliance expert chosen by the Danish Financial Supervisory Authority to oversee the implementation of its financial crime plan.
Danske Bank closed its Estonia branch in 2019. The bank has said it has invested approximately DKK 12 billion (U.S. $1.7 billion) in improving its anti-financial crime and AML controls over the past four years and today has 3,600 full-time employees dedicated to fighting financial crime.
Before joining Danske Bank, Lehal previously served as international head of financial crime at Morgan Stanley for 10 years, according to LinkedIn profile.
Lehal’s announcement coincided with Danske Bank announcing Monday that Berit Behring, head of large corporates and institutions, plans to retire Aug. 1 after 16 years at the bank.