HSBC accused of assisting money laundering – in 2009

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Reuters have reported:

A U.S. client of London-based HSBC pleaded guilty to conspiracy in connection with assets stashed abroad to evade taxes, part of a widening crackdown on foreign banks and their customers.

The plea is the first among the U.S. government's recent tax prosecutions that involves a major bank other than Swiss banking giant UBS AG.

HSBC was not named in the court documents, which referred to "one of the largest international banks in the world" ... "headquartered in England." But a person familiar with the matter identified the bank as HSBC.

Andrew Silva, of Sterling, Virginia, a doctor, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government by hiding about $250,000 in an account at a Swiss unit of HSBC.

The court filings listed the defendant's banker as an unindicted co-conspirator. HSBC declined to comment.

Silva was notified in August of 2009 that the bank would stop holding his account. He then attempted to send the money back through the mail in increments of less than $10,000 to evade reporting rules, according to the court documents.

I’ve read those court documents. Reuters are report to report that they say:

Court documents said a Zurich attorney and the Swiss banker warned Silva he could not use wire transfers to get his money out of Switzerland, for fear of leaving a paper trail. He was to deal only in cash and was given individually wrapped "bricks" to send the money back in chunks of $100 bills.

One such brick supplied by HSBC (if this widely believed report is true) had $100,000 in it in new, sequentially numbered dollar bills.

Now there is no way on earth a bank would have done this but to assist money laundering.

And if HSBC did this in Switzerland then its worth noting that the head of the HSBC private bank in that country is this man:

That’s the Rev Stephen Green of the Church of England, also Chair of HSBC, formerly CEO of HSBC and also the current chair of the British Bankers’ Association.

This money laundering will, if the HSBC connection is confirmed, have taken place on his watch. He can’t claim it’s not his responsibility. It’s the board’s job to ensure controls are in place to stop this sort of thing happening – in 2009. But it did happen – that’s beyond doubt. And if it was in HSBC he was there.

Will he resign if the HSBC connection is confirmed? Will he be indicted? Will he be extradited?

If not, why not? Surely if the HSBC connection is true there are charges for him to answer? I do not pre-judge guilt, but isn’t it right and proper that bankers, paid millions for their oversight, are held accountable for the money laundering their banks facilitate? Doesn’t that mean he should, if his bank was involved, have his day in court?

And if not, why not?