HSBC in Mexico moved $7bn in physical cash to the US between 2007 and 2008
International NGO Global Witness has called on senior HSBC bankers to be jailed for their part in the recent money laundering scandal.
On Monday, the bank announced it will pay a record $1.9bn to US authorities as a means of
settling allegations that it laundered money for drugs cartels, terrorists and pariah states.
Global Witness has claimed that the hefty fine will not make a difference to Europe’s largest bank, and that the senior management have a lot more to answer for.
Campaigner Rosie Sharpe said: \"Fines alone are not going to change banks’ behaviour. The chances of being caught are relatively small and the potential profits from accepting dodgy clients are too big. Fines are seen as a cost of doing business.\"
\"At the very least, senior bankers should be prevented from working in the industry, akin to the way in which doctors can be struck off. Bonuses should be clawed back, and, in the most serious cases, senior bankers should face jail,\" she added.
It is alleged that HSBC failed to check whether the dollars it was shipping from Mexico to the US was drugs money. In his findings, chair of the US Senate Subcommittee described HSBC’s culture as \"pervasively polluted.\" It is believed HSBC\'s Mexican operations moved $7bn in physical cash into the US between 2007 and 2008.
Global Witness has attacked the US Department of Justice for not prosecuting senior bankers and instead signing a \'deferred prosecution agreement\' which is the easier way out. \"If you get caught with your hand in the till you go to jail, but if you’re a big bank and you’re caught breaking the law, it seems that all that happens is you’re fined and told you’ll go to jail if you do it again,” said Sharpe.
British Parliament\'s Home Affairs Select Committee has already said that fines for banks that aided money laundering and drugs trafficking are not enough.