In what could be construed as a case of strange international bedfellows, NationsBank Corp. is joining two other banks to sponsor a symposium in London on fraud.
The Nov. 6-8 meeting on the prevention of financial fraud will be co- sponsored by Banco Santander of Spain and the Royal Bank of Scotland.
Those two banks own shares in each other and have a close strategic alliance. Banco Santander is also the largest shareholder of First Fidelity Bancorp. of New Jersey and, when the latter merges with First Union Corp., will become the biggest shareholder in NationsBank's North Carolina-based archrival.
But the goal of the fraud symposium transcends competitive issues.
Brendan Hewson, NationsBank's manager of international investigations, said the objective is to promote new global standards for improving cross- border regulation.
"Incidents of international financial fraud are more frequent and more sophisticated than ever before," said Mr. Hewson, a former detective in Scotland Yard's fraud unit.
"It is a growing problem in developed and emerging markets alike," he said. "We want symposium participants to leave with a deeper understanding of the problem and a heightened awareness of how to address it."
The event, to be held at the Queen Elizabeth 2d Conference Centre in London, is expected to attract about 200 senior banking and governmental officials from around the world.
Some 50 speakers from 20 countries will address topics such as organized crime, money laundering, counterfeiting, capital flight, international banking practices, and the role of technology in fraud detection.
"It's right and proper that these views can be put together to perhaps come up with some form of a global banking standard," Mr. Hewson said. He added that he intends there to be a strong element of training and sharing.
After the formal speeches, participants will gather for off-the-record sessions meant to encourage debate on competing views.
NationsBank, based in Charlotte, N.C., has a sizable international department and London presence. Mr. Hewson, who joined the bank last year, said he encouraged it to sponsor the conference.
NationsBank, in turn, brought in Banco Santander, one of its correspondent banks. Santander was joined by Royal Bank of Scotland, of which it owns 10%.
"They came as a package," Mr. Hewson said.
He said he had been mulling over the idea of such a symposium for some time but became more convinced of its importance when running training sessions in Moscow for Russian bankers. The conference will pay particular attention to fraud as it relates to the developing economies of Latin America, Eastern Europe, Asia, Indonesia, and Africa.
Speakers at the conference will include John Shockey, special assistant, national bank examiner, with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency; William J. Esposito, assistant director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and several international law-enforcement officials.