By Martin Coyle

LONDON/NEW YORK, May 17 (Thomson Reuters Accelus) – Counter-money laundering officials have welcomed a London High Court decision that saw wealthy Zimbabwean businessman Jayesh Shah fail in his $300 million claim against HSBC Private Bank. Yesterday’s judgment is a relief to financial businesses  who feared the impact of a Shah victory on overhauling their processes for suspicious activity reporting.

The case focused on HSBC’s decision to block four transactions totalling more than $38 million between September 2006 and February 2007. The bank suspected Shah of money laundering and sought consent from the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), the UK’s financial intelligence unit, to proceed with the transfers. Shah claimed that the delay in carrying out his requests in part led to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe freezing his investments in Zimbabwe and caused him significant losses. SOCA later gave consent to the transactions as legitimate. Shah had ‘parked’ the majority of the money in his HSBC account following an attempted fraud on his Credit Agricole account in July 2006. (more…)