For nearly 20 years, Juan Azel has counseled domestic and foreign financial institutions in the areas of regulatory and compliance, financial crime risk management, and internal investigations and enforcement, with an emphasis on the US Bank Secrecy Act (BSA)/anti-money laundering (AML) and economic sanctions laws and regulations.
During the course of his career, Juan has both represented financial institutions as external counsel and served “in-house” with financial institutions as general counsel. In these roles, Juan has counseled bank holding companies, national banks, state-chartered commercial banks, investment banks, private banks, foreign banking organizations and their U.S. branches and agencies, broker-dealers, registered investment advisors, family offices and other financial institutions and entities.
This combination of external and in-house counsel experience in a broad range of financial institutions allows him to bring a unique, hands-on, practical approach to his representation of all types of financial institution clients.
Prior to joining the firm, Juan served as Head of Legal of the Standard Chartered Private Bank (Americas) and StanChart Securities International Inc. (an SEC-registered broker-dealer), as well as Chief Legal Counsel of the BBVA Private Bank, Miami.
Juan has also served as Senior Legal Regulatory Counsel for Standard Chartered Bank, where he provided advice and support on regulatory and compliance matters to the Financial Crime Compliance (FCC) function, designed and drafted compliance programs and policies/procedures/controls, and performed global employee trainings on US BSA/AML and sanctions compliance.
- Regulatory and Compliance: Assisted financial institutions in improving or enhancing their enterprise-wide compliance function to meet the requirements of US BSA/AML and economic sanctions regulations, and industry best practices, including in:
- advising on rules and regulations issued by federal and state banking and securities regulator and agencies, including the Federal Reserve, the Office of Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), the Florida Office of Financial Regulation, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), and the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC);
- maintaining legal/regulatory matrices or obligations registers describing those laws and regulations applicable to the financial institution and the controls in place to ensure adequate compliance;
- drafting or enhancing required AML compliance programs and internal policies and procedures and desk operating instructions (DOIs);
- designing and implementing appropriate controls to mitigate or reduce gross financial crime risk;
- training AML Compliance Officers and front/middle/back office staff—including foreign employees—on US BSA/AML and economic sanctions compliance, relevant internal policies and procedures, DOIs and industry best practices; and reviewing and revising suspicious activity reports (SARs).
- Examination and Supervision: Assisted financial institutions in responding to regulator requests for information, and managing regulatory examinations, inspections or internal audits; including in:
- preparing the institution’s response to a regulator or auditor’s “first day letter”;
- interacting with state, federal and foreign banking regulators or internal auditors during the examination or audit;
- assisting the institution in quickly responding to initial findings or comments raised by regulators or auditors during the examination or audit in an effort to resolve the issue prior to it becoming a finding in the final Report of Examination or Audit Report;
- responding to final regulator or internal auditor findings, including matters requiring attention/immediate attention (MRAs/MRIAs), or other findings in the final Report of Examination or Audit Report; and
- executing the remedial action or enhancements required to address the MRAs/MRIAs or other final regulator or internal auditor findings.
- Investigations and Enforcement: Assisted financial institutions who are facing enforcement action by federal and state regulators, are the target of an investigation by law enforcement agencies, are the conduit through which a financial crime has been committed, or are the victims of a bank fraud or other financial crime, including in
- conducting internal investigations into the relevant activity, managing the forensic accounting of account activity (as applicable) and preparing a report on the results of the internal investigation;
- responding to regulator or law enforcement requests for information or employee interviews; and
- negotiating the terms of consent orders or settlement agreements with federal and state regulators and law enforcement agencies.
- Remediation and Training: Assisted financial institutions in changing their “compliance culture” and remediating their enterprise-wide compliance function to meet the requirements of consent orders and law enforcement agreements, US BSA/AML and economic sanctions regulations, and industry best practices, including in
- interpreting the requirements of a final consent order or settlement agreement and developing a methodology and approach to address the required deliverable;
- discussing the proposed methodology and approach to a deliverable with regulators and law enforcement personnel for comment;
- designing and drafting documentary deliverables and new or enhanced policies, procedures and controls required under final consent orders or settlement agreements within the specified deadlines;
- training financial institution staff on the implementation and operation of new or enhanced policies, procedures, protocols and controls;
- managing and overseeing consulting firms engaged by the financial institution on remediation initiatives; and
- meeting frequently with regulators, third-party “compliance monitors” and internal audit personnel to communicate progress on the development and implementation of remediation initiatives.
- JD, University of Miami School of Law, cum laude, 1998
- BS, Criminal Justice, Florida International University, with honors, 1995
- Member, Florida International Bankers Association (FIBA)
- Former Member, Advisory Committee, South Florida Group of Regional Counsel
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