Berlin-based digital bank N26 has announced the appointment of Carina Kozole as its new chief risk officer and managing director.
With a wealth of experience spanning over 20 years in the banking and financial services sector, Kozole has primarily focused on risk management in lending, risk control, and corporate and investment banking. Her most recent role was as senior vice president and head of credit risk operations at HypoVereinsbank – UniCredit Bank AG in Germany.
Carina succeeds Jan Stechele, who held the position on an interim basis since April. Despite stepping down from the interim role, he will continue to serve as a member of the Executive Board. Stechele will also collaborate closely with Kozole, particularly on matters relating to anti-money laundering and compliance.
Kozole’s extensive background includes working with financial regulators in various regions such as Europe, Asia, and the US.
Commenting on her appointment, Carina Kozole said: “Having seen what the team at N26 has achieved over the years, I believe that the company is well placed to deliver customer innovation in a highly regulated space, delivering new solutions that can be best-in-class examples in our sector.”
Marcus W. Mosen, Chair of the Supervisory Board, added: “Carina has a proven track record in risk management and banking operations, which will be central in an industry backdrop of growing and evolving regulatory requirements. Her leadership experience and expertise in digital topics also place her strongly to drive innovation and efficiency. We have an excellent team with Jan Stechele and Carina Kozole for all regulatory topics.”
N26’s decision to bring on board a seasoned professional like Carina Kozole reflects the company’s desire to strengthen its risk management practices amid regulatory scrutiny. Her appointment comes shortly after the German financial watchdog BaFin extended money laundering controls at the challenger bank due to the ongoing “deficiencies” in its systems.
BaFin fined the business €4.25 million in 2021 for its lax money laundering controls and placed a temporary limit on the number of new customers the bank could onboard each month, capping it at 50,000 new customers. In a rare move, the regulator also appointed a special supervisor to monitor the digital lender.
BaFin urged N26 twice since 2019 to “rectify deficiencies both in IT monitoring and in customer due diligence” and to “ensure that it has the adequate personnel, technical and organisational resources to comply with its obligations under anti-money laundering law”.
The bank said that it had already addressed the problems behind the BaFin fine. N26, which is one of Europe’s most highly valued fintechs, also stated that it heavily invested in anti-money laundering measures and is fully committed to complying with all aspects of BaFin’s order as quickly as possible. This came despite downsizing its workforce by cutting 71 jobs, roughly four percent of its headcount, due to a challenging macro-economic business climate.