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The Department of Justice and U.S. Treasury said Tuesday that HSBC allowed the most notorious international drug cartels to launder billions of dollars across borders. In addition, the government said HSBC violated U.S. sanctions for years by illegally conducting transactions on behalf of customers in Iran, Libya, Cuba, Sudan and Burma.
At a news conference in Brooklyn, N.Y., Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer said the settlement concluded a five-year investigation in which the department reviewed 9 million documents.
“HSBC is being held accountable for stunning failures of oversight,” said Breuer in a department statement. “The record of dysfunction that prevailed at HSBC for many years was astonishing.”
The bank will have to tighten its rules. It’s already fired senior managers and taken away some bonuses. Last year, HSBC made a $16.8 billion profit globally.