Juan O. Tamayo, The
British bank HSBC will pay $1.26 billion to settle
Documents in the case filed Tuesday in
HSBC officials in
"HSBC is being held accountable for stunning failures of oversight -
and worse - that led the bank to permit narcotics traffickers and
others to launder hundreds of millions of dollars ... and to
facilitate hundreds of millions more in transactions with sanctioned
countries," said Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer.
The bank willfully allowed $660 million in forbidden transactions
Those payments violated
The $665 million that HSBC agreed to pay separately for breaking the
sanctions brought to more than $1.9 billion the total assessed for
such violations in a decade. The
Court documents provided no further details on the sanctions violations,
but an independent report on the HSBC case issued in July by the
Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs revealed
"HSBC affiliates in Latin America, in particular, had many Cuban
clients and sought to execute transactions on their behalf in U.S.
dollars, despite the longstanding, comprehensive
It listed the HSBC branches in Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras and Panama.
Internal bank documents showed that in 2005 bank auditors warned that the
Two years later, another bank document noted the
Another 2007 document indicated the
In a statement Tuesday, HSBC acknowledged problems in its system for
alerting to possible money laundering and said it expected to sign
settlements with British regulators soon. "We accept
responsibility for our past mistakes. We have said we are profoundly
sorry for them, and we do so again," said CEO Stuart Gulliver.
"The HSBC of today is a fundamentally different organization from
the one that made those mistakes."
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Miami Republican who was active in the UBS case, praised the Treasury Department for "a great achievement in our quest to hold financial institutions accountable for facilitating illicit activities," adding, "It is my hope that punishing HSBC's violations will have a deterrent effect on those entities that would seek to defy U.S. sanctions and other guidelines put in place to dismantle transnational criminal networks and curb violent extremist activity." Editor Note: The headline in an earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the settlement amount. HSBC agreed to a $1.26 billion settlement.
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