Ashurst expands financial crime expertise with Risk Advisory partner hire

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    Global law firm Ashurst has bolstered its Risk Advisory practice with the appointment of financial crime expert Steven Blackburn as a partner in its Melbourne office, as the firm expands its integrated legal and consulting services offering.

    With close to two decades' experience in senior executive roles in Australia and abroad, Steven has deep knowledge of financial crime prevention, anti-money laundering, anti-bribery, compliance and risk management in heavily regulated sectors including financial services, hospitality and gaming. A former lawyer, Steven has represented global corporations before regulators and government committees in jurisdictions including Australia, Canada, the USA and the UK.

    Most recently Crown Resorts' Chief Risk Officer, Chief Compliance Officer and Chief Financial Crime Officer, Steven appeared in two Royal Commissions and designed and led transformation and remediation efforts which ultimately resulted in the granting of conditional casino licenses in NSW, Victoria and Western Australia and the sale of the business to a private equity firm.

    Previously NAB’s Chief Financial Crime Risk Officer and Group Money Laundering Reporting Officer, Steven was responsible for engagement with Austrac and ensuring compliance with economic sanctions across the bank's global operations. He has also held roles including Chief Anti-Money Laundering officer at the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, based in Toronto and operating in 24 jurisdictions.

    Steven and the Ashurst Risk Advisory team will work closely with Ashurst's legal experts, using the firm's model of combining legal and consulting capabilities to help clients manage financial crime risk and comply with their regulatory obligations. Ashurst has deep legal expertise in financial crime and has invested in this area with the recent appointment of partners including Narelle Smythe, Hong-Viet Nguyen, Samantha Carroll and Nick Mavrakis.

    Philip Hardy, Head of Ashurst Risk Advisory, Australia, said: "We're delighted to welcome Steve to Ashurst as we build out our Risk Consulting division, which provides end-to-end solutions to clients through our legal-led consulting model. Steve will play a key leadership role in our financial crime team, helping clients in sectors including financial services, gaming and real estate ensure they manage their risks and effectively comply with anti-money laundering regulations, fraud controls and global sanctions. We approached Steve after an industry-wide search, which identified significant unmet demand for his expertise in the risk advisory space. His appointment is a demonstration of our continued investment in Ashurst Risk Advisory, which has experienced exponential growth in Australia and the UK over the past three years."

    Steven added: "I am excited to join Ashurst and help grow the firm's financial crime, compliance and risk management advisory services. We are seeing regulators across the globe take an increasingly active approach to addressing fraud, money-laundering, corruption, sanctions breaches and other areas of financial crime and we expect levels of scrutiny to only increase. In such a high-stakes environment, businesses need advisers with both legal and real world experience to help them understand and meet obligations, engage in regulatory investigations, resolve breaches and undertake remediation where required. Ashurst's integrated risk advisory and legal services offering provides a compelling platform to help organisations navigate these challenges and improve governance.”

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