StanChart ASEAN & South Asia CEO Ajay Kanwal steps down over ‘disclosure lapse’

Ajay Kanwal, regional CEO for ASEAN and South Asia at Standard Chartered Bank, has resigned from the British bank with immediate effect over a disclosure lapse related to his personal investments, the bank said on Monday.

Kanwal said: “The bank rightly sets very high internal standards on disclosures for all staff. After careful deliberation I felt that some of my internal disclosures about my historical personal investments in businesses outside the bank did not meet these very high standards.”

He added, “Though I do not own these investments anymore, as a senior leader, my actions should be beyond reproach. Hence with regret I have decided to tender my resignation. I wish Bill and all my colleagues a very successful future.”

He did not share further details on the investments.

Bill Winters, CEO of Standard Chartered Bank, commented: “Ajay’s historical personal investments in businesses outside the bank had no impact on our clients or the economic interest of the bank. He was elected to put the bank’s interests above his own and I respect his decision to step down.”

Standard Chartered said Anna Mars, CEO of commercial and private banking unit, will assume the additional role of regional CEO, South Asia, subject to regulatory approvals. She will continue to be based in Singapore.

India as part of South Asia business is one of the key markets for the global bank. Standard Chartered, the oldest foreign bank in the country, is the top international bank operating in India in terms of loan book but rising bad loans had hurt its earnings last year.

Citibank, HSBC and Deutsche Bank are the other large foreign banks in India.

Ajay Kanwal

Kanwal who has had a 24-year-long career with Standard Chartered Bank was elevated as regional CEO for ASEAN and South Asia on 1 October 2015.

He had joined Standard Chartered in 1992 from Citibank in India. He moved to this role from South Korea where he managed South Korea, Taiwan and Mongolia as regional CEO.

In the past, he had also served as CEO for the bank’s Taiwan unit and regional head - consumer banking for South East Asia. He has had a long background in retail banking, including lending to small and medium enterprises. He also helped set up and grow StanChart’s private bank franchise in Singapore.

He holds a Bachelor’s degree in engineering, electronics and telecommunication from Jawaharlal Nehru Engineering College and a master’s in marketing from Prin L. N Welingkar Institiute of Management Development and Research Studies.

StanChart bankers from India

Last year, Standard Chartered saw a top management overhaul with former JPMorgan CEO Bill Winters taking over from Peter Sands as global CEO. At the same time, it replaced Indian banker Jaspal Bindra as head of its largest market - Asia.

While Bindra later moved on to become executive chairman of Indian financial services firm Centrum, StanChart also named new CEO for India last year.

It hired Zarin Daruwala, former head of wholesale banking at ICICI Bank, as its India CEO.

She took over from Anurag Adlakha, who was serving as acting CEO after Sunil Kaushal was named head of Standard Chartered’s Africa and Middle East businesses during a revamp of operations announced in July 2015.

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