HSBC says U.S. officials will dismiss criminal charges

HSBC says U.S. officials will dismiss criminal charges

HSBC has had its prosecution threat lifted in the United States over the allegation of money laundering across Mexico. The Asia-focused lender entered the agreement in 2012 and paid a $1.9 billion fine for failing to prevent Mexican cartels from laundering money through the bank.

The probe by the US said the bank was the conduit for the rogue nations and drug kingpins.

HSBC announced in a statement today that its five-year DPA with the DoJ had expired.

Lax money laundering controls at HSBC allowed two cartels - one each in Mexico and Colombia - to move $881 million in drug proceeds through the bank over the second half of the last decade, according to documents in the case. The bank also paid United States authorities a record $1.9bn (£1.42bn) settlement.

The 2012 settlement was related to the alleged laundering of around $881m for Mexican drug lords as well as completing transactions for countries subject to USA sanctions, including Iran.

The DPA was brought in to avoid a prosecution, which if it had lead to an indictment, would have meant the United States government could no longer have conducted business with the bank.

The agreement included as well an appointment of an independent monitor for compliance who produced assessments annually of the effectiveness of the anti-money laundering of the group and its program for sanctions compliance.

HSBC said the monitor would continue as the bank's skilled person under a 2012 direction issued by the UK Financial Conduct Authority. HSBC lived up to all of its commitments, and, therefore, under the DPA, the Department of Justice will file a motion with the US District Court for the Eastern District of NY seeking the dismissal of the charges deferred by the agreement.

CEO Stuart Gulliver told the media that HSBC can fight financial crime far more effectively today due to the significant number of reforms implemented over the past five years.

"HSBC is working to ensure the reforms it has put in place are both effective and sustainable over the long-term, and, given the increasing sophistication of criminal networks that seek to circumvent banks' controls, HSBC intends for its programme to evolve and improve further over time", the statement added.

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