HSBC is being investigated by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) over nepotistic hiring practices, it revealed this morning.
HSBC's share price was down 3.6 per cent in early trading.
The bank, which today posted worse-than-expected figures for 2015, admitted it was one of many financial institutions being probed by the US watchdog over "hiring practices of candidates referred by or related to government officials or employees of state-owned enterprises in Asia-Pacific".
"HSBC has received various requests for information and is cooperating with the SEC’s investigation", the bank said.
However it was unable to say what the outcome could be, including when any findings may be known, or the possible impact on HSBC "which could be significant".
Three years ago, the SEC launched an investigation into JP Morgan over the hiring of "princelings" - the term used for children or younger relatives of people in powerful positions within China.
Last year, the bank came under renewed scrutiny over its hiring of Gao Jue, the son of a commerce minister.