HSBC faces legal action over dirty cash claims

HSBC has been warned it could be bombarded by legal claims after leaked files indicated the bank had allowed criminals to launder money. 

Shares in the bank plumbed depths not seen in 25 years, after a cache of files released on Sunday night appeared to show it had continued to move money around for shady networks, even after raising the alarm over suspicious transactions. 

Lawyers are warning the revelations could leave HSBC open to legal action from shareholders who have lost out as the stock tumbled, and fraud victims who feel the bank should have acted quicker. 

Dirty money: Lawyers are warning the revelations could leave HSBC open to legal action from shareholders  and fraud victims

Dirty money: Lawyers are warning the revelations could leave HSBC open to legal action from shareholders  and fraud victims

Dirty money: Lawyers are warning the revelations could leave HSBC open to legal action from shareholders  and fraud victims

Sam Tate, head of white-collar crime at law firm RPC, said: ‘This leak could lead to a flurry of legal claims against UK banks by the victims of fraud and Ponzi schemes.’ 

The documents were filed by banks with the US Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network between 2000 and 2017. They contain more than 2,100 suspicious activity reports (SARs) banks have to fill out if they believe their customers are up to no good. 

If lenders have evidence of criminal activity, they must stop moving cash and freeze or close accounts. But the files indicate they didn’t. 

Barclays also suffered after the documents showed it may have laundered money for sanctioned Russian billionaire Arkady Rotenberg, a close friend of President Putin. 

HSBC said: ‘Starting in 2012, HSBC embarked on a multi-year journey to overhaul its ability to combat financial crime across more than 60 jurisdictions.’ 

Barclays said: ‘We believe that we have complied with all our legal and regulatory obligations.’ 

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