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No compliance issue, StanChart CEO says as compliance head put on leave

Standard Chartered PLC CEO Bill Winters said the U.K. bank does not have "a compliance-related problem," days after the lender put its compliance chief on leave.

Neil Barry, StanChart's head of compliance, has been placed on leave while an internal investigation into an undisclosed matter takes place, the Financial Times reported March 17, citing an emailed statement from the bank. Tracy McDermott, the former head of the U.K.'s Financial Conduct Authority, has taken over as compliance head on an interim basis.

At a press conference in Hong Kong on the sidelines of the Credit Suisse Asian Investment Conference on March 19, Winters said he could not comment further on the nature of that process.

"What we can clearly say is we have no issues related to the compliance function itself," he said. "[Barry's departure] is not an indication that we have a compliance-related problem."

Winters has been besieged with issues related to compliance since he took over as CEO in 2015, with the latest action coming from the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

Earlier Monday, Singapore's central bank fined StanChart's Singapore units US$4.9 million over breaches of anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing requirements. Winters did not comment on the fine.

The lender is also being investigated by the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission over its role in the initial public offering of a Chinese forestry company in 2009. The bank has since closed its equities business.

Winters said of the SFC investigation: "We have received some sort of suspension but we are not in that business [anymore]. [The investigation] has no material impact on our ongoing business."