As a young boy growing up in Sri Lanka during the civil war, Baheer Jeyaraj witnessed people carrying guns on the street. Then, after moving to London when he was 10 years old, he realised that global financial centres too have a dark side, where youngsters can be sucked into a criminal world, with fraud and proceeds from financial crime closely linked to drugs and terrorism. His work later took him to India where he saw the devastation caused by poverty, with the hard work of decent people undermined by the scourge of bribery and corruption. All of these things left him asking how he could play a part in improving the banking industry’s anti-financial crime detection capabilities and ultimately fighting terrorist financing, human trafficking and fraud
A qualified accountant who opted for a career in banking, Baheer has never believed that financial crime is simply about the numbers.
He gained widespread experience in areas such as investment banking and corporate banking before moving into the regulatory and compliance function. He strongly believes that banks must not regard fighting fraud as simply a way of meeting regulatory requirements and improving operational efficiency; they should also see it as a moral duty.
The culture in banking is changing, observes Baheer, and fighting financial crime has become a higher priority as banks have recognised the reputational issues and heavy fines that go with it.
His background in delivering change programmes has led him to adopt the same approach to improving anti-financial crime programmes at banks, by identifying weaknesses, getting the right people in place, careful planning and a focus on high quality delivery.
“When I started working in this area, I could relate financial crime to some of the things I had seen at first hand. There is a temptation to see financial crime as being victimless, just numbers on paper, but it has a really serious effect on people’s lives. It’s something I am passionate about. My sister is a doctor and does something that is rewarding and has a tangible benefit for society. I think banking is an area where I can make a difference.”
Baheer has worked with senior management at banks, up to Board level, as well as with their technology partners, developing programmes in areas such as KYC, transactions monitoring, sanctions screening and fraud.
For him, the key to sustainable results is robust planning, communication and adaptability, not least because the regulatory environment is constantly changing, and offering customers a tailor-made solution that meets their needs, budgets and timing requirements.
Baheer Jeyaraj, Managing Director
- AML Programme Manager at Credit Suisse
- Regulatory & Compliance Change Project Manager at Barclays
- Business Analyst at Visa
- Project Manager at RBS
- Management information reporting manager at JP Morgan
- Certified Accountant.