HSBC released from United States deferred criminal charges

HSBC released from United States deferred criminal charges

The risk of a prosecution has been hanging over Britain's biggest bank for the past five years after it was forced to pay $1.9bn (£1.4bn) to the U.S. authorities to settle claims that it allowed "narcotics traffickers and others to launder hundreds of millions of dollars through HSBC subsidiaries and to facilitate hundreds of millions more in transactions with sanctioned countries".

Shares in HSBC, which is Europe's biggest bank, rose 2%.

After the DPA was signed in 2012, HSBC embarked on a worldwide programme of upgrading its compliance systems to United States standards, raising its spending to more than $1bn a year.

Under the DPA deal, the lender had pledged to strengthen its sanctions and money-laundering controls.

Under the DPA, the DoJ installed a monitor, American lawyer Michael Cherkasky, in the bank's operations and he will remain in place until July 2018, exactly five years after he began his oversight of the bank's operations.

HSBC said it had "lived up to all its commitments" and the DoJ would therefore file a court motion to dismiss the charges that had been deferred under the agreement.

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HSBC said the monitor will continue in the role "for a period of time" at the discretion of the UK's City regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority.

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.

Gulliver, who was set to leave the banking group after four decades - to be replaced by John Flint in the new year - added that making their systems more secure would be a priority from 2018.

However, HSBC warned in its last annual report that the independent monitor appointed by the DoJ to assess its anti-money laundering and sanction compliance programme had "expressed significant concerns" about the pace of HSBC's attempts to clean up its act in its latest report.

After the USA probe was completed, HSBC admitted to having poor controls established for money laundering and made an apology.

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