HSBC to pay $1.9B to settle money-laundering probe

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 11, 2012 at 1:07 am •  Published: December 11, 2012
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Last summer, the Senate investigation concluded that HSBC's lax controls exposed it to money laundering and terrorist financing.

HSBC bank affiliates also skirted U.S. government bans against financial transactions with Iran and other countries, according to the report from the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. And HSBC's U.S. division provided money and banking services to some banks in Saudi Arabia and Bangladesh thought to have helped fund al-Qaida and other terrorist groups, the report said.

The report also blamed U.S. regulators: It said they knew the bank had a poor system to detect problems but failed to take action.

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., the committee chairman, cited instances in which HSBC had promised to fix deficiencies after being sanctioned by regulators but failed to carry through.

Levin also said the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the U.S. agency that oversees the biggest banks, tolerated HSBC's weak controls against money laundering for years and that agency examiners who had raised concerns were overruled by their superiors.

In his statement Tuesday, HSBC's Gulliver said: "The HSBC of today is a fundamentally different organization from the one that made those mistakes. Over the last two years, under new senior leadership, we have been taking concrete steps to put right what went wrong and to participate actively with government authorities in bringing to light and addressing these matters."

HSBC announced Monday that Robert Werner, a former head of the Treasury Department agencies responsible for sanctions against terrorist financing and money laundering, is taking a new position within HSBC as head of group financial crime compliance and group money-laundering reporting officer. Werner has been head of global standards assurance since August.

In January, HSBC hired Stuart Levey, a former Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, as its chief legal officer. And a former policy adviser in the Obama administration, Preeta Bansal, in October became HSBC's global general counsel for litigation and regulatory affairs.



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