Santander Holdings USA has shifted its chief operating officer to the post of chief risk officer, the company said Tuesday.

Mahesh Aditya will immediately assume responsibility for risk management functions across the $128.2 billion-asset U.S. subsidiary of the Spanish banking giant Banco Santander. He succeeded Brian Gunn, who recently became a special risk adviser to Scott Powell, CEO of Santander Holdings.

Industry veteran
Before he joined Santander Holdings in 2017 as COO, Mahesh Aditya was Visa's chief risk officer. He worked at Citibank, Capital One and JPMorgan Chase previously.

The company has been working to turn the corner after a rough few years on the regulatory and financial fronts.

Its auto lending unit, Santander Consumer USA, paid $9.4 million to the Justice Department in 2015 to settle charges that it unlawfully repossessed cars from military service members; $2.9 million this year to settle with Connecticut regulators over how it handled repossessed motor vehicles; and another $300,000 this year to settle consumer disclosure violations in California.

Moreover, Santander Consumer in 2016 restated its financial results several times because of problems with the way it calculated its provision for loan losses.

Meanwhile, the company's Boston-based banking unit, Santander Bank, paid a $10 million fine to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in 2016 for charging illegal overdraft fees.

There has been some good news recently. The bank recently regained a passing Community Reinvestment Act grade, meaning it will again be able to open new branches and accept public deposits.

But challenges lie ahead. Santander Holdings was hit in March of 2017 with an enforcement action from the Federal Reserve that ordered the bank to strengthen oversight of its Dallas-based auto lender. That enforcement action remains in effect.

“These leadership appointments come at an important turning point for Santander in a year where we have made several significant strides on the regulatory front,” Powell said in a press release Tuesday. “Our commitment to well-developed risk management and governance processes remains among our highest priorities.”

Before he joined Santander in 2017 as COO, Aditya worked at Visa as its chief risk officer and a member of its operating committee. He began his career in Citibank in risk management and operations in India and later helped start the company’s credit card and retail banking businesses in Egypt.

Aditya also worked at Capital One as head of risk for mortgage and business banking and then joined JPMorgan Chase as chief risk officer of retail banking.

The company did not name a new COO.

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