Banks have stepped up their hiring of anti-money laundering specialists, increasing both the number of jobs and also pay in the wake of scandals and heavy fines for poor controls.

The number of new jobs within UK banks’ anti-money laundering teams has jumped 54 per cent in the last year, with 2,157 positions being created, according to the latest statistics.

This new army of anti-money laundering specialists can also command higher rates, with some contractors earning as much as £1,500 a day; a rise of 17 per cent, according to BrightPool, a recruiter that compiled the data.

Banks are particularly calling for people who can speak an additional language as they are best placed to scrutinise money flows originating from overseas investors, BrightPool said.

The demand for anti-money laundering experts comes in the wake of high-profile enforcement action by US authorities on UK banks. Standard Chartered said earlier this month that it expects to pay a fine to New York’s banking regulator for failing to report suspicious transactions – less than two years after it had to pay $667m to US authorities over alleged sanctions violations – while HSBC paid $1.9bn in fines with US authorities in 2012 after admitting that it processed drug trafficking proceeds through Mexico and transmitted funds from sanctioned countries including Iran.

HSBC now has 24,300 staff specialising in risk and compliance, almost 10 per cent of its entire workforce, which has increased about a sixth from three years ago.

The UK financial watchdog is increasing its scrutiny of banks’ controls in this area. In January it fined Standard Bank, South Africa’s largest lender, £7.6m for lax money-laundering controls, in the regulator’s first such case against a commercial bank.

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