Last updated: May 31, 2013 1:20 pm

HSBC recruits ex-head of MI5 to shore up financial crime defence

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Jonathan Evans©AFP

Sir Jonathan Evans

HSBC has recruited the former head of MI5 as the bank beefs up its defences against financial crime – six months after it was fined almost $2bn by US authorities over money laundering and sanctions breaches.

Sir Jonathan Evans, who spent more than three decades working at Britain’s domestic intelligence agency, will join the bank’s board as a non-executive director in early August. He will also become a member of the Financial System Vulnerabilities Committee, a panel of experts assembled by HSBC this year to help the bank identify areas where it could be exposed to financial crime.

In December the bank agreed to pay a $1.26bn fine to the Department of Justice and a further $665m to US regulators to settle Mexican money-laundering and sanctions breaches following a five-year investigation.

HSBC has appointed several heavyweights to the committee, including Bill Hughes, a former head of the UK’s Serious Organised Crime Agency, and Dave Hartnett, the former head of HM Revenue & Customs.

As director-general of MI5 for six years, Sir Jonathan, 55, was a senior adviser to the government on national security policy and attended the National Security Council. He was knighted in the 2013 New Year’s honours list and retired from the service in April 2013.

His appointment will be for an initial three-year term.

The bank pointed to Sir Jonathan’s experience in international and domestic counter-terrorism and, more recently, cyber threats, an area of growing concern for large companies.

“His experience and expertise gained from a career at the highest level of public service combating threats to data security, critical infrastructure and from international terrorism and organised crime will be of considerable value to the board as it addresses its governance of systemic threats,” said Douglas Flint, chairman of HSBC.

Sir Jonathan is the latest high-profile public figure to be appointed to a compliance role in the UK banking sector, which is seeking to tighten up procedures following a string of scandals including the rigging of Libor and the mis-selling of payment protection insurance.

Earlier this week Royal Bank of Scotland made Jon Pain, a former senior regulator, its compliance chief. Lloyds Banking Group also recently appointed Matthew Elderfield, the head of Ireland’s banking regulator, to the equivalent role at the bank.

That followed Barclays’ appointment of former Financial Services Authority chief executive Hector Sants as the bank’s head of compliance and government relations.

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