Australian bank Westpac announced Thursday it will combine the leadership of its risk and compliance divisions into one position under a seasoned compliance executive from Fannie Mae.
The bank appointed Ryan Zanin as chief risk officer, effective immediately. Zanin had most recently been the executive vice president, chief risk officer and a member of the board of directors at Fannie Mae.
Zanin has more than four decades of experience in banking, having previously served as chief risk officer and board member at GE Capital and in risk chief roles at Wells Fargo, Wachovia Corp., and Deutsche Bank. A native of Canada, Zanin also served in various positions at Bank of Montreal, Citibank Canada, and Bankers Trust Company.
“Ryan Zanin will build on the work underway as we continue to drive our risk transformation. I’m pleased we will have someone of Ryan’s caliber joining Westpac,” Westpac CEO Peter King said in a press release.
The restructure is part of a three-year plan to build a “simpler bank,” said King. More than 1,100 employees have been laid off in the effort, mostly in head office and support functions and not customer-facing roles.
“Two years ago, we elevated financial crime to a dedicated executive role to ensure we had a single focus on improving our performance,” King said. “While there is still work to do, the time is now right to simplify accountabilities with all of our risk function under the [chief risk officer].”
Leaving the bank are Chief Risk Officer David Stephen and Les Vance, group executive, financial crime, compliance, and conduct. Stephen will depart his post in May, the bank said, while Vance will leave later in the year.
“I would like to thank David Stephen for his service during a challenging time for Westpac,” said King. “He has overhauled Westpac’s risk management approach and leaves it in a much better place. I would also like to thank Les Vance, who has made a significant contribution to the group over many years, most recently playing a pivotal role in uplifting our financial crime capability.”
Westpac agreed to pay a record 1.3 billion Australian dollars (then-U.S. $912.6 million) in 2020 after admitting to violating Australia’s Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006 on more than 23 million occasions. The violations occurred in the reporting rules related to Australia’s international funds transfer instruction, as well as other systemic failings concerning correspondent banking, risk assessments, customer due diligence, transaction monitoring, and recordkeeping.
An internal report concluded Westpac’s compliance failures were caused by “a mix of technology and human error.” Although 38 employees were hit with a variety of financial measures, Westpac concluded the errors were “faults of omission” and there was “no evidence of intentional wrongdoing,” according to King.
Before the fine was levied, Westpac said it had spent AUD$632 million (then-U.S. $443.5 million) on financial crime compliance and made improvements to its technology platforms, personnel, processes, and procedures.
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