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IPFS News Link • Drug War

HSBC became bank to drug cartels, pays big for lapses

•, By Carrick Mollenkamp
 Lax money laundering controls at HSBC allowed two cartels - one each in Mexico and Colombia - to move $881 million in drug proceeds through the bank over the second half of the last decade, according to prosecutors and federal court documents.
So rampant was the practice, prosecutors said, that on some days drug traffickers deposited hundreds of thousands of dollars at HSBC Mexico accounts. To speed things along, the criminals even designed "specially shaped boxes" that fit the size of teller windows at HSBC branches, according to the documents.

Prosecutors said a multi-year, multi-agency probe into such transactions revealed how HSBC had degenerated into the "preferred financial institution" for drug traffickers and money launderers. And on Tuesday, that culminated in a far-reaching deferred prosecution agreement with HSBC.


An HSBC spokesman declined to discuss specific transactions or clients. But as part of the agreement, the bank acknowledged major lapses in compliance and ignoring red flags. It also acknowledged enabling clients to avoid U.S. sanctions that prohibit dealings with countries such as Iran, Libya, Sudan, Myanmar and Cuba.