Bank chief quits over money laundering

The head of compliance at British banking giant HSBC resigned in front of a United States Senate subcommittee yesterday after it emerged the bank had exposed the US to billions of dollars worth of money laundering, drug trafficking, and terrorist financing.

David Bagley, who has been HSBC head of group compliance since 2002, stepped down before the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittee after its findings were published.

Mr Bagley, who had a 20-year career with the bank and is based in London, said: “Despite the best efforts and intentions of many dedicated professionals, HSBC has fallen short of our own expectations and the expectations of our regulators.”

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Earlier in the hearing, subcommittee chairman Senator Carl Levin said HSBC’s compliance culture had been “pervasively polluted for a long time”.

The revelations are another blow to the reputation of the banking industry.

Mr Bagley told the panel that he had recommended to HSBC senior management that it was the “appropriate time” for “someone new to serve as the head of group compliance”.In his written submission to the subcommittee, he said the bank had “learned a number of valuable lessons” and partly blamed the oversights on the bank’s rapid growth.

Mr Bagley revealed that the bank is to close 20,000 bank accounts on the Cayman islands as result of the money laundering investigation.