Magazine article American Banker

Valley of N.J. Hires Reflect BSA Compliance Climate

Magazine article American Banker

Valley of N.J. Hires Reflect BSA Compliance Climate

Article excerpt

Valley National Bancorp. of Wayne, N.J., decided in May that it needed to solidify its Bank Secrecy Act compliance, and for talent it turned to two competitors and the U.S. Air Force.

On Friday the $12 billion-asset parent of Valley National Bank announced it had named Jennifer Sands a senior investigator.

Ms. Sands, whose duties include monitoring suspicious-activity identification processes, is the second senior investigator hired by Valley in the past two months. On June 11 it named Evan Stalter to conduct individual investigations and supervise compliance training.

Ms. Sands had been a BSA analyst with the $6.3 billion-asset Provident Financial Services Inc. of Jersey City Mr. Stalter spent four years as an intelligence analyst with the Air Force, investigating fraud and other financial crimes.

Both were hired by Sheila Leary, who joined Valley National in May as senior vice president in charge of the BSA and anti-money laundering compliance. Ms. Leary had been senior counsel at the $96.4 billion-asset Bank of New York Co. Inc., where she handled criminal investigations of, among other things, money laundering and terrorist financing. She also was an assistant district attorney in Brooklyn.

Though Valley National has not been cited for anti-laundering deficiencies, observers said its hires reflect growing concern among bankers as regulators ratchet up their scrutiny in this area.

Many bankers responded after AmSouth Bancorp. was fined $50 million last year for failure to file suspicious-activity reports, and earlier this month the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency published a report this month that said the agency was bolstering its anti-laundering enforcement. …

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