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People walking past advertising for a HSBC bank in Hong Kong/AFP

Kenya

HSBC to pay $1.92 bn to settle US laundering probe

People walking past advertising for a HSBC bank in Hong Kong/AFP

China, Dec 11 – Banking giant HSBC said Tuesday it had agreed to pay US authorities a record $1.92 billion to settle allegations of money laundering that were said to have helped terrorists and Iran.

“HSBC has reached agreement with United States authorities in relation to investigations regarding inadequate compliance with anti-money laundering and sanctions laws,” the Hong Kong-listed lender said in a statement.

The London-based but Asia-focused bank also vowed to continue to cooperate fully with authorities to strengthen its compliance policies after the so-called “deferred prosecution agreement” with the US Department of Justice.

“We accept responsibility for our past mistakes. We have said we are profoundly sorry for them, and we do so again,” group chief executive Stuart Gulliver said in the statement.

“The HSBC of today is a fundamentally different organisation from the one that made those mistakes.

“We are committed to protecting the integrity of the global financial system. To this end we will continue to work closely with governments and regulators around the world,” Gulliver added.

US lawmakers accused the global bank in July of giving Iran, terrorists and drug dealers access to the US financial system. The firm soon afterwards apologised for failing to apply anti-laundering rules, and a senior executive resigned.

David Bagley, the head of group compliance for London-based HSBC, was forced to step down from his post in the wake of a US Senate subcommittee’s damning report on the bank’s operations.

In early November HSBC said it had set aside $1.5 billion for fines linked to money-laundering in the United States.

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