HSBC unreported money laundering or terrorist financing

While I wrote for the Household-HSBC Watch website I picked up on money laundering issues. The terrorist aspect came from Iraq at that time. As with any problem it is always nice when probes and investigations produce results. Now, in late November 2011, we can report that the OCC finally took action.

HSBC Bank is being monitored by U.S. regulators after a probe last year focused on bulk cash that the bank’s U.S. branch received from Mexican exchange houses, money suspected to be drug proceeds.

One of the regulators, the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, said HSBC had “critical deficiencies” in its 2006-2009 reporting of suspicious activities and its monitoring of bulk-cash transfers.

The OCC issued a cease-and-desist order against HSBC, noting, “The bank’s compliance program and its implementation are ineffective, and accompanied by aggravating factors, such as highly suspicious activity creating a significant potential for unreported money-laundering or terrorist financing.”

After U.S. federal prosecutors issued grand jury subpoenas, some believed that regulators might try to use the HSBC case to set an example and prosecute individual bankers. Instead, HSBC agreed to strengthen its compliance program and has said it is cooperating with investigators, without acknowledging wrongdoing, part of a so-called consent order.

Bryan Hubbard, a spokesman for the OCC, said last month that “OCC examiners continue to monitor actions by the bank to correct deficiencies and comply with that [consent] order.”