HSBC under scanner for hiring candidates linked to govt officials

  • PTI, London
  • Updated: Feb 22, 2016 17:55 IST
An HSBC logo is displayed at the entrance of its branch in Hong Kong. (REUTERS)

Global banking giant HSBC on Monday said it is being probed in the US for hiring candidates related to government officials in Asia Pacific.

The bank did not identify the specific country where such hirings could have been made, but said it is cooperating with the investigation by the US markets regulator SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission).

Earlier in 2013, SEC had launched a probe against US banking major JPMorgan for hiring of candidates related to political leaders or powerful executives at state-run firms.

UK-based HSBC also said it has received inquiries from the US Department of Justice regarding its banking relationships with certain individuals and entities that are or may be associated with the global football body FIfa.

“The DoJ is investigating whether multiple financial institutions, including HSBC, permitted the processing of suspicious or otherwise improper transactions, or failed to observe applicable AML (Anti Money Laundering) laws and regulations. HSBC is cooperating with the DoJ’s investigation,” the bank said.

For both the cases, the bank said “it is not practicable at this time for HSBC to predict the resolution of this matter, including the timing or any possible impact on HSBC, which could be significant”. The disclosures have been made as part of the bank’s annual financial statement released on Monday.

HSBC’s reported profit before tax rose 1% to 18.87 billion dollar for 2015, while adjusted profit before tax was down 7% at 20.4 billion. The adjusted revenue was up 1% at 57.7 billion dollar. The bank also said some services of its HSBC Finance arm “has been the subject of enforcement actions against other institutions by regulators, including the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the OCC, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.

“Such enforcement actions have resulted in orders to pay restitution to customers and the assessment of penalties in substantial amounts,” it added.

The bank also said it keeps seeking feedback from customers in order to assess their services and in 2015 it improved the processes for responding to customer complaints and tools for understanding their causes.

With regard to India, the bank said, “Our analysis of customer complaints led us to improve customer communication regarding minimum balances and change our fee structure. Complaints in this area subsequently reduced by 62%.”

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