HSBC cites threat to security in fighitng publication of anti-money laundering report
Jan 19, 2016 03:39 AM EST
HSBC cites its fiscal vulnerability and threat to security as the reasons behind its battle to block the publication of a 1,000-page report detailing its compliance with US rules following its fine of $1.9 billion by the American government for breaking anti-money laundering laws in 2012.
The Guardian gives a background of the dispute. Three years ago, the bank had been caught regularly assisting Mexican drugs cartels in channeling their illegally gotten wealth into the US. The investigation concluded with an agreement with the US prosecution that subjected HSBC to regular audits to ensure its utmost and regular compliance with the laws, while preventing further occurences related to money laundering. Since 2012, the bank was also scrutinized for its capacity to detect and prevent similar suspicous activities by its customers and clients. The $1.9 billion fine handed out by the US government was said to be a record-breaker.
The report that documents HSBC's behavior since that agreement was forged now and faces the possibility of publication, despite the objetctions of the bank and the Department of Justice. Hubert Dean Moore, an HSBC account holder, requested the courts to make the publication available to the public. HSBC protested that such a move would pose a risk to its security, while providing money launderers and other white-collar criminals further ammunition on how they can circumvent existing safeguards.
It is not the first time that HSBC had been caught in a crime of this kind. Punch reports that only a year ago, it was fined 40 million Swiss francs by the Swiss government for indulging in money laundering activiies.
Its apparent accommodation of its clients almost got HSBC into a similar trouble, also this year. In a related story published by the Daily Mail, HSBC's Swiss branch was taken to task on suspicions that it had been helping Hollywood superstars, celebrities, and other affluent clients avoid paying their income tax. However, as of press time, the Financial Conduct Authority has issued a statement saying it will not press charges against HSBC.