With Bank of New York under the sharp scrutiny of federal investigators on suspicion of Russian money laundering, and John Reed just back from admitting to Congress that Citigroup mishandled several high-profile accounts, most private bankers would probably be happy to duck for cover.

Not Maria Elena Lagomasino. The Cuban exile and former librarian who runs Chase Manhattan Corp.'s 2,000-person private banking operation surveys the scandal-pocked landscape and sees nothing but opportunity. "There is a tectonic shift going on in private banking worldwide," she says, with excitement in her slightly accented speech.

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