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HSBC being punished for 'stunning failures': US

Published on Dec 12, 2012 6:44 AM
Members of various law enforcement and government agencies listen during a news conference to announce money laundering charges against HSBC on Dec 11, 2012, in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. HSBC Holdings plc and HSBC USA NA have agreed to pay US$1.92 billion (S$2.35 billion) and enter into a deferred prosecution agreement with the US Department of Justice in regards to charges involving money laundering with Mexican drug cartels. -- PHOTO: AFP 

NEW YORK (AFP) - HSBC intentionally broke United States (US) sanctions on Iran and other countries, and laundered Mexican drug money to build its business, the US said on Tuesday as it socked the global banking giant with US$1.92 billion (S$2.35 billion) in fines.

US authorities blasted the British bank's internal controls as "knowingly and willfully" lax as it enabled forbidden financial transactions with Iran, Libya, Sudan, Cuba and Myanmar from the 1990s to 2006.

Its Mexico branch also freely allowed hundreds of millions of dollars to be laundered through HSBC by drug groups, the Justice Department said.

The US said the bank violated US sanctions laws, the Cold War-era Trading with the Enemy Act aimed at Cuba, and numerous banking regulations as it exposed the US financial system to terrorists and drug cartels.

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