HSBC today announced US authorities will dismiss deferred money laundering charges against the firm, removing a cloud which has been hanging over the banking giant for the past five years.
The British bank entered into a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) with the US Department of Justice (DoJ) at the end of 2012, agreeing it would not be prosecuted as long as it did not offend again.
The DoJ's decision removes the threat of criminal prosecution from HSBC for the offences, in which the bank allegedly helped to launder $881m (£658m) for drug cartels in Mexico and Colombia.
In 2012 HSBC agreed to pay out $1.9bn in fines, after US investigations found it had repeatedly failed to heed internal warnings on the quality of its compliance.
Outgoing chief executive Stuart Gulliver, who will hand over the reins shortly to John Flint, said: “HSBC is able to combat financial crime much more effectively today as the result of the significant reforms we have implemented over the last five years.
“We are committed to doing our part to protect the integrity of the global financial system, and further improvements to our own capability and contributions toward the partnerships we have established with governments in this area will remain a top priority for the Bank into 2018 and beyond.”
Under the terms of the agreement an independent compliance monitor was appointed in July 2013 to produce annual reports on HSBC’s progress in improving its anti-money laundering and sanctions compliance.
HSBC said the monitor will continue in the role “for a period of time” at the discretion of the UK’s City regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority.