HSBC has appointed Sunil Veetil to the newly created role of regional head of sustainability for commercial banking, Asia Pacific, effective August 1.

Veetil will move from Dubai, where he is currently the bank’s head of global trade and receivables finance (GTRF) for the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey (Menat), to Singapore to take up the position.

HSBC says it will conduct an open recruitment process for a new Menat head of GTRF, but that in the meantime, it has asked Elie El Asmar to assume the role on an interim basis, alongside his current duties as head of commercial banking, Qatar.

Veetil brings to the role 24 years of banking experience with HSBC, including stints in Indonesia, South Korea and across the Menat region. He will be tasked with executing the bank’s sustainability strategy in Asia Pacific, which includes partnering with country coverage in originating, structuring and managing clients’ transition strategies; working with regulators and other external stakeholders; shaping the ESG risk agenda; and embedding the ESG culture internally and externally.

He will report to Amanda Murphy, head of commercial banking for South and Southeast Asia, on an entity basis and to Natalie Blyth, global head of commercial banking sustainability, on a functional basis.

Veetil’s appointment comes less than a month after controversial statements made by Stuart Kirk, global head of responsible investing at HSBC Asset Management, at a Financial Times event, in which he argued that policymakers and central bankers had exaggerated the financial risk of climate change.

Senior HSBC executives moved swiftly to distance themselves from his comments, with group chief sustainability officer Celine Herweijer saying in a LinkedIn post that Kirk’s views were “absolutely not” shared by the HSBC leadership team.

“As a global bank we understand we have a critical role, and responsibility, to help our customers and communities transition to a net-zero future. We are wholly committed to this agenda, and the massive transformation programme ahead for ourselves, for the finance sector, and for clients in all sectors as we look to build a clean, sustainable and resilient future for all,” she said.

In a statement welcoming Veetil to the new role, HSBC says: “At HSBC, we have the ambition to support a global transition to net zero and are acting now to reduce our financed emissions. This includes providing between US$750bn and US$1tn of financing and investment by 2030 to help our clients transition. We have already made great progress across Asia Pacific and Sunil’s appointment will allow us to better support our clients’ transitions with our suite of innovative and market-leading ESG solutions.”