HSBC escaped US money-laundering charges after UK intervention

George Osborne warned the US against prosecuting HSBC, a House report shows [Image: Neil Hall/PA].

George Osborne warned the US against prosecuting HSBC, a House report shows [Image: Neil Hall/PA].

The important aspect of this is that George Osborne warned the US off prosecuting HSBC when the UK government already knew that the bank was helping thousands of wealthy clients to dodge tax.

Perhaps Mr Osborne was worried that any evidence of financial wrong-doing might reflect poorly on the Conservatives? After all, former HSBC boss Stephen Green was a Tory peer by the time of the US investigation.

The US government decided not to pursue criminal charges against HSBC for allowing terrorists and drug dealers to launder millions of dollars after George Osborne and the UK banking regulator intervened to warn that prosecuting Britain’s biggest bank could lead to a “global financial disaster”.

On Monday, a congressional report published letters and emails from Osborne and Financial Services Authority (FSA) officials to their US counterparts warning that launching criminal action against HSBC in 2012 could have sparked a “financial calamity”.

The House financial services committee report said the UK interventions “played a significant role in ultimately persuading the DoJ [Department of Justice] not to prosecute HSBC”. Instead of pursuing a prosecution, the bank agreed to pay a record $1.92bn (£1.4bn) fine.

The report revealed that Osborne wrote to Ben Bernanke, who was then the Federal Reserve chairman, and Timothy Geithner, the then treasury secretary, to warn that prosecuting a “systemically important financial institution” like HSBC “could lead to [financial] contagion” and pose “very serious implications for financial and economic stability, particularly in Europe and Asia”.

Source: HSBC escaped US money-laundering charges after UK intervention | Business | The Guardian


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4 thoughts on “HSBC escaped US money-laundering charges after UK intervention

  1. David Woods

    Dodgy dealings done dirt cheap!
    Wouldn’t be surprised if the fine just got totalled onto the public debt (sorry ‘bailout fund’) otherwise known as the public purse – which apparently everyone but the public can dip their hands in on demand!

  2. Brian

    To big to fail! So the perversion of justice is justified? In whose interests? A result of collusion or failure, I suspect both. In any other sphere this would be held as improper and illegal conduct. Osborn walks away from this, yet LIBOR riggers get sentenced. It seems the US is just as hypocritical and corrupt as the Tories.

  3. Dez

    All Brothers ‘n Bob….To big to fail… blah, blah blah ….. So the elite have a very special language and understanding when it comes to greed. No problem however with financially screwing the millions of honest taxpayers to bail out this and the other nest of overpaid gambling thieves/reptiles. Thankfully we still all in it together.

  4. Brian

    The (£1.4bn) fine will no doubt be put against tax, hidden in ‘operating expenditure’, so we even pay the fine, you have to laugh at all this.

Comments are closed.