City watchdog slaps HSBC after $1.9bn US fine

THE FINANCIAL Services Authority (FSA) yesterday announced a clampdown on HSBC, following the news that the British bank will pay $1.9bn (£1.2bn) to US authorities over money laundering.

The City watchdog said it had told the bank to introduce a number of measures “to ensure that all parts of the HSBC Group are in compliance with the relevant legal and regulatory requirements across the group to prevent similar failings occurring in the future”.

The requirements include: creating a committee to oversee matters relating to the charges; appointing an FSA-sanctioned money laundering reporting officer; and conducting a review of the bank’s policies to ensure compliance with UK law.

However, the FSA did not announce it would impose a further fine.

The watchdog’s announcement came after HSBC said it had reached a $1.9bn settlement with US authorities following a criminal investigation that alleged the bank had channelled money from rogue nations, drug cartels and terrorists through the US financial system. The charges date back as far as 2003.

HSBC also said it was spending $700m on a global review of its customer vetting programme, Know Your Customer, which it expects will take five years.

“We accept responsibility for our past mistakes. We have said we are profoundly sorry for them, and we do so again,” the bank’s chief executive Stuart Gulliver said. “The HSBC of today is a fundamentally different organisation from the one that made those mistakes.”

The bank also said it was clawing back bonuses for “a number of senior officers”, following similar actions in the last two years.

HSBC’s shares were not significantly affected however, since the sanctions were broadly expected.