HSBC Senior Executives to Face July 17 Hearing in Senate

HSBC Holdings Plc (HSBA)’s North American head Irene Dorner and global legal chief Stuart Levey will face Senate investigators’ questions about the firm’s failure to protect against money laundering, according to a list of witnesses released today.

The Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations will question Dorner, president and chief executive of HSBC North America Holdings Inc., and Levey, a former U.S. Treasury undersecretary hired by the London-based bank in January, at a July 17 hearing, according to the subcommittee’s list.

The panel, working from its own report of about 400 pages, will probe the bank’s dealings with embassy accounts, transactions with Iranian firms and risks of money laundering in its Mexican operations, according to a person briefed on the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the report hasn’t been released.

During the hearing, senators will question a total of six current and former HSBC executives and five current and former government officials. The list includes U.S. Comptroller of the Currency Thomas Curry, Treasury Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen and Leigh Winchell, an assistant director in the Homeland Security Investigations unit of U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.

‘Case-Study’

The hearing will use HSBC as a “case study” to look at “the money-laundering and terrorist-financing vulnerabilities created” when a global bank’s U.S. affiliate gives “high-risk affiliates, high-risk correspondent banks, and high-risk clients” access to the U.S. system, according to a statement from the panel.

“It is right that we be held accountable and that we take responsibility for fixing what went wrong,” HSBC CEO Stuart Gulliver said in a memo to his staff obtained by Bloomberg News, demonstrating the bank will be contrite when confronted with what he said was “unacceptable behavior.”

Tara Andringa, a spokeswoman for Senator Carl Levin, the Michigan Democrat who leads the panel, declined to comment on any specifics of the investigation.

HSBC’s North American units reached agreements in 2010 with the OCC and the Federal Reserve to fix “critical deficiencies” in its compliance programs for protecting against money laundering and terrorist financing.

To contact the reporters on this story: Jesse Hamilton in Washington at jhamilton33@bloomberg.net; Robert Schmidt in Washington at rschmidt5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Maura Reynolds at mreynolds34@bloomberg.net

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