HSBC Said to Near $1.9 Billion Settlement Over Money Laundering

If corporations are people shouldn’t HSBC or at least its board of directors all be going to prison?

From The New York Times:

December 10, 2012

Federal and state authorities plan to announce a record $1.9 billion settlement with HSBC on Tuesday, a major victory in the government’s broad crackdown on money laundering at banks.

The settlement with HSBC stems from accusations that the British banking giant transferred billions of dollars on behalf of sanctioned nations like Iran and enabled Mexican drug cartels to launder money through the American financial system, according to officials briefed on the matter. The deal, which will force the bank to forfeit more than $1.2 billion and pay additional penalties, is the largest to emerge from an investigation that has spanned several years and involved multiple government agencies.

The settlement on Tuesday is expected to include a deal with the Manhattan District Attorney’s office and a deferred prosecution agreement with the Justice Department, according the officials. The Treasury Department is also expected to join the settlement.

Since January 2009, the Justice Department, Treasury and the Manhattan prosecutors have charged six foreign banks, including Credit Suisse and Barclays. In June, ING Bank reached a $619 million settlement to resolve claims that it had transferred billions of dollars in the United States for Cuba and Iran.

On Monday, federal and state authorities announced a $327 million settlement with Standard Chartered. The British bank, which in August agreed to a larger settlement with New York’s top banking regulator, admitted to processing thousands of transactions for Iranian and Sudanese clients through its American subsidiaries. To avoid having Iranian transactions detected by Treasury Department computer filters, Standard Chartered deliberately removed names and other identifying information, according to the authorities.

“You can’t do it, it’s against the law and today Standard Chartered is being held to account,” Lanny A. Breuer, head of the Justice Department’s criminal division, said in an interview.

The settlement with HSBC, the giant British firm, will help the bank put to rest a wide-ranging federal investigation that has loomed for years.

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