Financial Regulatory Forum

Federal judge approves HSBC deferred prosecution agreement

By Brett Wolf, Compliance Complete

NEW YORK, July 3 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - A U.S. federal judge has approved the Deferred Prosecution Agreement in which British banking giant HSBC will pay $1.9 billion to regulators and the Justice Department for operating with anti-money laundering weaknesses that among other things allowed drug cartels to launder hundreds of millions of dollars. (more…)

U.S. Justice Department chooses former prosecutor to be HSBC compliance monitor

By Brett Wolf, Compliance Complete

NEW YORK, June 6 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - The U.S. Justice Department on Wednesday said it has chosen a former New York County prosecutor who is known for his innovative pursuit of criminals to police HSBC’s efforts to clean up its anti-money laundering program.

The Department’s decision to announce its choice at a time when a federal judge’s hesitation to sign-off on its settlement with HSBC has raised questions over the settlement’s prospects suggests the move is an attempt to win the judge’s approval, compliance experts said. (more…)

Exclusive: Consultancies on second tier as Justice Department seeks HSBC compliance monitor

By Brett Wolf, Compliance Complete

May 14, (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - Although a federal judge in Brooklyn has not yet signed-off on a deal between HSBC and the Justice Department that would settle allegations that anti-money laundering failures at the bank allowed drug cartels to launder hundreds of millions of dollars, candidates for a lucrative job policing the bank’s compliance with the pact are scrambling to win the work. (more…)

Less drug-money traffic at HSBC may mean more risk for other banks in U.S.

By Brett Wolf, Compliance Complete

NEW YORK, Dec. 13 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) – HSBC was a hotspot for Mexican drug traffickers trying to launder the proceeds of their illicit U.S. sales during the 2000s, as suggested by a Senate report released in July and verified by a deferred prosecution agreement announced by the Justice Department on Tuesday. But now that the British banking giant has been forced to take steps to clean up its anti-money laundering act, Mexican cartels are making moves that may mean more risk for other banks, sources said.

Eager to move cash through the teller windows of HSBC’s Mexico unit in the largest amounts possible — sometimes as much as hundreds of thousands of dollars per day — drug traffickers designed specially shaped boxes, a document released by the Justice Department on Tuesday states. Once the cash was in HSBC accounts, brokers wired it to exporters in New York City and elsewhere in the United States as payment for goods destined for Colombian businesses, according to a”statement of facts” that was filed in federal court in Brooklyn along with a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA). (more…)

Standard Chartered case may not set model for targeting other banks

By Aruna Viswanatha and Brett Wolf

WASHINGTON/ST. LOUIS, Sept. 5 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - Benjamin Lawsky’s surprise move against Standard Chartered in an Iran sanctions case may have stunned the banking world, but it is unlikely to expand the scope of a series of similar U.S. cases against European banks that are still in the pipeline.
Lawsky, the New York state bank regulator, stunned the British bank, its shareholders and other U.S. authorities when he moved ahead last month with his own case against Standard Chartered, accused of hiding transactions involving Iran, which is under U.S. trade and economic sanctions. (more…)

Compliance lessons: U.S. Senate report on HSBC AML failings

By Susannah Hammond

LONDON/NEW YORK, July 20 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - The United States Senate Permanent Sub-Committee on Investigations has published a report into U.S. Vulnerabilities to Money Laundering, Drugs, and Terrorist Financing using HSBC Group plc as a case history. The report does not detail enforcement action taken, though there are several likely fines being considered by a number of U.S. authorities regarding HSBC’s anti-money laundering (AML) failings; it is however a valuable insight into the operations and associated compliance, risk and AML issues arising in a global financial services firm.  (more…)

U.S. bank regulator promises better enforcement following scathing congressional report into HSBC AML failures

By Brett Wolf

WASHINGTON, July 18 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) - After widespread anti-money laundering (AML) failures at HSBC that continued for years due to lax regulatory oversight, a U.S. bank regulator has vowed to take a broader view of institutions’ compliance programs during examinations.

“The agency was much too slow in responding and addressing what are significant weaknesses or violations at this institution. Going forward, I would hope that we would be much more nimble and take into account the entire picture,” Thomas Curry, who took over as Comptroller of the Currency less than four months ago, said on Tuesday during a hearing by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. (more…)

ANALYSIS-Asia next in line of fire for U.S. tax police

By Jason Rhodes, Kevin Lim and Joe Rauch

ZURICH/SINGAPORE/CHARLOTTE, July 7 (Reuters) – After forcing Switzerland’s top bank UBS  to its knees for helping U.S. residents dodge taxes, U.S. authorities are moving on other banks and countries used to hide clients’ cash.

Washington inflicted a tough lesson last year on Switzerland by forcing the world’s biggest offshore banking centre to lift its treasured bank secrecy and slapping a $780-million penalty on UBS.

The Department of Justice is now going after other offshore centres like Singapore, which have attracted undeclared money that left Switzerland, and has opened a criminal inquiry into Asian clients of Britain’s HSBC Holdings Plc, Europe’s No. 1 bank.

UK move to limit bank branches irks global lenders

 By Kirstin Ridley

LONDON, Feb 17 (Reuters) – A quest by British regulators to protect local taxpayers by pruning the branches of global banks is riling the industry and risks running roughshod over a principle of free movement within Europe.

Britain’s Financial Services Authority (FSA), which unilaterally published tough new liquidity rules for banks last year, is keen to stop banks operating in London from setting up branches. It prefers subsidiaries, which are easier to police.

This push for “subsidiarisation” has gathered steam since the collapse of Icelandic banks in 2008 left UK depositors empty-handed, shattering a European principle that national regulators will protect the interests of international clients.

U.S. tax evaders rush to beat amnesty deadline

By Kim Dixon
WASHINGTON, Sept 14 (Reuters) – Rich Americans who have evaded taxes by hiding foreign holdings have about a week to turn themselves in to an Internal Revenue Service amnesty program or gamble they will not be caught.
(more…)

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