In 2011, Banks Fretted Over Sanctions, Tax Investigations and Political Changes

By Brian Monroe and Colby Adams

Tax investigations, political turmoil and economic sanctions were among the biggest challenges faced by the compliance departments of financial institutions in 2011, say bank officials and industry experts. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the year for compliance officials was the degree to which political changes informed their daily work. With uprisings or governmental collapse in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Syria, Bahrain and other Arab countries, 2011 saw the greatest political change since 1989, when the Eastern Bloc of the former Soviet Union fell and China beat back political dissent. For bank officials, the changes meant rethinking risk rankings for the...