Do Our Banks Finance Gangs?

(Telegraph) HSBC ‘acted as financier to drug gangs’ – US Senate report

Reuters  6:19AM BST 17 Jul 2012

A “pervasively polluted” culture at HSBC allowed the bank to act as financier to clients seeking to route shadowy funds from the world’s most dangerous and secretive corners, including Mexico, Iran, the Cayman Islands, Saudi Arabia and Syria, according to a scathing US Senate report.

While the big British bank’s problems have been known for nearly a decade, the Senate probe detailed just how sweeping the problems have been, both at the bank and at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, a top US bank regulator which the report said failed to properly monitor HSBC.

“The culture at HSBC was pervasively polluted for a long time,” said Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the US Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, a Congressional watchdog panel.

The report comes at a troubling time for a banking industry reeling from a multi-country probe into the manipulation of global benchmark rates. Last month, rival British bank Barclays agreed to pay a £290m fine to settle a US-British probe into the rigging of the benchmark interest rate known as the London interbank offered rate, or Libor.

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