Wed, Feb 29, 2012 - Page 10 News List

HSBC likely facing criminal charges


HSBC Holdings PLC said on Monday it would likely face criminal or civil charges from an expanding investigation into its ties to allegedly illegal money transactions, including some tied to Iran.

The disclosure in a regulatory filing shows the increasingly serious nature of inquiries into the London-based bank’s business.

HSBC already is the subject of multiple US law-enforcement probes for ties to illegal money transactions. Monday’s filing was the first time the bank disclosed that Iranian transactions are under scrutiny and that it could face a criminal charge.

The bank’s HSBC USA Inc unit said investigations were being conducted by the US Justice Department, the district attorney in Manhattan, two US Treasury Department agencies and the US Federal Reserve.

It said those inquiries were examining “historical transactions involving Iranian parties and other parties subject to” US economic sanctions.

Financial institutions doing business in the US are prohibited from aiding sanctioned countries or banks. In recent years, the Manhattan district attorney and US Justice Department have settled with a number of European banks that operated transfer systems for Iranian clients. Banks aided clients trying to improperly move money by removing references that could tip off a US bank system to a transaction tied to Iran or another sanctioned state.

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