StanChart Chairman Says Bank Acts `Decisively' on Misconduct

(Bloomberg) -- Standard Chartered Plc Chairman Jose Vinals defended the bank’s culture, insisting the emerging markets-focused lender has acted swiftly and “decisively” to root out misconduct.

His comments, in an interview in Lagos, Nigeria, come after a number of top executives in charge of policing behavior at the bank were themselves disciplined or investigated for allegations of harassment or inappropriate conduct, people familiar with the matter said earlier this month. Vinals said any instances of inappropriate behavior were normal in an organization that employs 86,000 worldwide.

“We have been making strong efforts to push the right culture through the bank, so that everywhere and everybody lives that culture,” Vinals said. Whenever wrongdoing is identified, “you deal with them decisively and that is what we are doing.”

Chief Executive Officer Bill Winters has pledged to overhaul the culture of the bank, and has repeatedly chastised managers for flouting ethics rules and acting as if they were “above the law.” Earlier this month, the bank’s global head of compliance, Neil Barry, stepped down after an investigation at the emerging markets focused lender concluded that his language and behavior toward colleagues was inappropriate.

“We have a very high bar in terms of culture and conduct. That is something that is critical for us,” Vinals said. “From that point of view, we have made tremendous efforts over last few years in particular to make sure that we have refreshed our purpose.”

In the past year, the head of anti-bribery and corruption left after the London-based bank probed allegations he had altered the performance review of a subordinate he was having an affair with, people with knowledge of the matter said earlier this month. The bank’s global compliance chief stepped down after an investigation concluded that his language and behavior toward colleagues was inappropriate, according to an internal memo in June.

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