14 Dec 2017
The United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority has progressed with its inquiry into the involvement of British banks in facilitating alleged money laundering for a controversial South African business empire, according to Lord Peter Hain.
On Tuesday, during a debate on the Sanctions and Money Laundering Bill, Lord Hain said the FCA had now engaged with a whistleblower and it has been ‘a positive experience.’
However he warned the banks against harassing the individual.
“I say to the financial institutions involved that I named in your Lordships’ House, including HSBC, Standard Chartered and the Bank of Baroda, that if I find that there is any witch-hunting of those responsible, or of the brave, courageous people in the South African governmental system who have also been supplying me with information, I will name the institutions involved and identify the individuals as having suffered that persecution.”
“I say this before your Lordships because it is important that as we take the Bill through we arm it with the instruments necessary to stop this kind of practice,” he said.
HSBC is being investigated by the FCA and a number of UK agencies, including the Serious Fraud Office and National Crime Agency, for its ‘complicit role’ in a widespread money laundering allegations involving the Gupta family, wealthy business people associated with President Jacob Zuma.
Lord Hain initially presented Chancellor Philip Hammond with printouts of transactions showing the illegal transfer of funds from South Africa made by the Gupta family over the last few years from their South African accounts to other accounts held in Dubai and Hong Kong.
Illicit transactions were flagged internally in the bank, but it was allegedly told by the UK headquarters to ignore it, Lord Hain recently said.
Lord Hain also supplied the FCA with sheets of evidence involving HSBC accounts.
He urged authorities to investigate the role of British banks in the Gupta scandal.
Following Lord Hain’s claims, last month HSBC said it had been reviewing its exposures to the Guptas for some time and had closed a number of accounts for associated front companies wherever it found them.
The Guptas deny allegations of wrong doing.
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