Banking

TD Bank, facing AML scrutiny replaces its chief compliance officer

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TD Bank Group, which disclosed last fall that it was under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice, has already spent $500 million to enhance its compliance systems, paid a $6.7 million fine to Canadian regulators, and taken a $450 million provision in anticipation of more monetary penalties.

Chloe Ellingson/Bloomberg

TD Bank Group has replaced its chief compliance officer amid ongoing investigations into deficiencies in its anti-money laundering program.

Erin Morrow began in the role last week after Monica Kowal stepped down from the position on July 2. Morrow previously worked in compliance roles at Citigroup for over a decade and had served as TD’s deputy chief compliance officer since January.

The moves were announced by Chief Risk Officer Ajai Bambawale in a June 28 internal memo.

“A seasoned and respected leader, Erin has more than twenty years of experience in compliance, audit, and risk management,” Babawale said in the memo, which was obtained by American Banker. “She has extensive experience working in complex organizations with a global footprint, which will serve her well in this role.”

The shakeup comes as TD faces a major AML system overhaul. The Canadian bank disclosed last fall that it was under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice in connection with money laundering schemes. The Wall Street Journal has reported that Chinese crime groups funneled at least $653 million in fentanyl and other illicit narcotics sales through the Toronto-based lender.

TD has already spent $500 million to enhance its compliance systems, paid a $6.7 million fine to Canadian regulators, and taken a $450 million provision in anticipation of more monetary penalties. Some analysts have predicted that TD may be in for over $2 billion in additional fines by U.S. and Canadian regulators.

The bank’s AML woes reportedly led to the demise of TD’s planned acquisition last year of Memphis, Tennessee-based First Horizon Corp., and they have raised questions about whether TD will be able to realize its ambitious U.S. expansion plans. The problems have also sparked speculation about how long TD’s 67-year-old CEO, Bharat Masrani, will stay in the top job.

Morrow, who will report to Bambawale, steps into the chief compliance office job as AML compliance remains a pressing concern for TD. Seven other TD compliance executives, most of them vice presidents, now report to her.

Bambawale did not detail a reason for Kowal’s departure , but said in the memo that Kowal “played a key role developing strategies to mitigate regulatory compliance risks and providing advice.” Kowal had occupied the role since 2017.

Bambawale also said that Morrow has “already made a significant impact within the Compliance organization and across the Bank, including building the Compliance Transformation team.” 

A TD representative declined to comment on whether the bank plans to make any adjustments to its compliance program under Morrow’s leadership.

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