Tuesday 20 March 2018

HSBC fined $2bn for money laundering

Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

HSBC has been fined $2bn (€1.5bn) for many money laundering offences committed while two of the most senior figures now tasked with cleaning up the Irish financial system were top executives at Europe's biggest bank.

HSBC agreed to pay the record fine to US authorities for failing to enforce money laundering rules after investigators uncovered damning evidence of the bank's role in moving cash for Mexican drug cartels and for banks in rogue states including Iran and Libya.

The HSBC case made the headlines here earlier this year because former HSBC chiefs Michael Geoghegan and David Hodgkinson now hold senior positions at state-controlled financial institutions in Ireland.

Former HSBC chief executive Michael Geoghegan, who is Finance Minister Michael Noonan's top advisor on NAMA, was the most senior executive at HSBC for much of the period investigated by the US authorities.

He receives no payment for his work on NAMA.

The current chairman of state-owned AIB, David Hodgkinson, was the chief operation officer at HSBC during some of the period investigated. Before that he had run the bank's operations in the Middle East.

Both men were named in the lengthy report into HSBC by the US Senate committee that investigated the bank.

Mr Noonan has publicly backed Mr Geoghegan and Mr Hodgkinson since news of the US case against their former bank broke.

Mr Geoghegan's successor as HSBC chief executive has admitted the bank's failings and apologised, but he pointed the finger of blame at the previous management.

"Over the last two years, under new senior leadership, we have been taking concrete steps to put right what went wrong and to participate actively with government authorities in bringing to light and addressing these matters," said the current chief executive Stuart Gulliver.

HSBC said it increased spending on anti-money laundering systems by around nine times between 2009 and 2011, exited business relationships and clawed back bonuses for senior executives.

Irish Independent

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