HSBC Saudia Arabia, a subsidiary of the British bank, hired two senior compliance staff with unaccredited business degrees - meaning they are unqualified to apply for even an entry-level position at the firm.
And an investigation by Channel 4 News has revealed that these are just two among dozens of Saudi staff working at international finance firms listing questionable qualifications from unaccredited institutions.
The probe found that Ashraf BinAli, formerly head of regulatory and financial crime compliance at HSBC Saudi Arabia, boasted a business degree from “Kensington University”, a bogus institution in California with no official accreditation to operate as a university - meaning its standards are not externally checked.
Kensington University, an online distance learning provider, no longer exists, having been forced out of business by state regulators in California. It was also banned from operating in Hawaii in 2003.
BinAli was hired by the subsidiary in early 2015 and his email address is still listed on the Saudi official register as the compliance officer overseeing its multi-billion dollar mutual funds. However, HSBC told Channel 4 that he had recently resigned, separate to the investigation into his qualifications.
Meanwhile, another unnamed member of staff within the HSBC Saudi Arabia compliance division, also lists a degree from an unaccredited institution.
HSBC has been contacted for comment.