23 Aug 2018
A number of regulatory and law enforcement agencies are speaking to HSBC regarding individuals and firms thought to be linked to Mossack Fonseca, the firm at the heart of the Panama Papers scandal.
Following the publication of the Panama Papers two years ago, questions have arisen over the role that global banks such as HSBC played in shifting funds or providing other services in the world of corporate secrecy or financial crime.
Preliminary reportage regarding the Panama Papers is understood to have shown that over 500 banks, including their subsidiaries, registered almost 15,600 shell companies with Mossack Fonseca.
A Swiss unit of HSBC reportedly had links to 733 offshore foundations named in the Papers.
“HSBC has received requests for information from various regulatory and law enforcement authorities around the world concerning persons and entities believed to be linked to Mossack Fonseca & Co., a service provider of personal investment companies,” HSBC said in its recently published interim results.
“HSBC is cooperating with the relevant authorities. Based on the facts currently known, it is not practicable at this time for HSBC to predict the resolution of these matters, including the timing or any possible impact on HSBC, which could be significant.”
The regulators likely to have contacted HSBC could include the United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority, which previously said it had written to several banks about their links to the Panama Papers, but did not name them.
In the same interim report, HSBC revealed that it is being investigated by the FCA and said it was ‘co-operating’ with the banking watchdog. It did not elaborate on the details.
Swiss regulator Finma, meanwhile, announced earlier this year that it has concluded its investigation into 30 local banks regarding the Panama Papers and that some were required to improve their anti-money laundering systems and controls.
It found, however, that Gazprombank Switzerland had ‘serious shortcomings in anti-money laundering processes regarding private clients.’
– Irene Madongo
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