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HSBC to pay $101.5m to settle currency rigging probe

HSBC to pay $101.5m to settle currency rigging probe

NEW YORK: HSBC has agreed to pay $101.5m (£73m) to settle a US criminal investigation into the rigging of currency transactions. The case, brought against the UK-based bank by the Department of Justice in New York, centred on the activities of traders accused of using confidential information provided by clients to the benefit of the bank.

One former British employee, Mark Johnson, was convicted of fraud in October in connection with a $3.5bn currency transaction by Cairn Energy in which he was said to have deployed a tactic known as “front-running”. He is awaiting sentencing while Cairn received an $8.1m payment from HSBC in settlement. The agreement with HSBC, announced by the DoJ on Thursday night, is yet to be officially signed off by a judge.

But under the so-called deferred prosecution agreement, which means the bank avoids criminal charges so long as it abides by a series of terms, it will pay a $63.1m fine. On top of that is a $38.4m payment in restitution to a corporate client. That company was not identified by the DoJ.

The deal with HSBC is also dependent on the bank bolstering its internal controls. HSBC said the fine reflected a 15% reduction that took into account the bank’s cooperation and “extensive remediation” efforts. Its statement added: “The conduct described in the agreement occurred in 2010 and 2011.

“Since then, HSBC has introduced a number of measures designed to make the control environment in its Global Markets business more robust.

“The DoJ recognises these extensive improvements, noting that HSBC has dedicated significant resources to strengthening its systems and controls.”