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U.K. Trade Minister Green Challenged Over Time Running HSBC

U.K. Trade Minister Stephen Green
U.K. Trade Minister Stephen Green was chief executive officer of HSBC Holdings Plc from 2003 to 2006 and then its chairman until 2010. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

U.K. Trade Minister Stephen Green was challenged to answer questions about his time at the top of HSBC Holdings Plc, after the bank apologized for opening its U.S. affiliate to Mexican drug money.

Green, appointed to the House of Lords when Prime Minister David Cameron made him trade minister in 2011, was chief executive officer of the London-based bank from 2003 to 2006 and then its chairman until 2010. He is also an ordained priest in the Church of England and author of “Good Value: Reflections on Money, Morality and an Uncertain World.”

Executives from the bank yesterday apologized to a Senate subcommittee that told them that over the last decade they’d offered “a gateway for terrorists to gain access to U.S. dollars and the U.S. financial system.” Compliance chief David Bagley announced his resignation during the hearing.

“The U.S. Senate sub-committee’s report, which suggests that HSBC allowed money laundering by drug cartels and possibly even terrorists, is so serious that the bank’s head of compliance has already resigned,” Chris Leslie, a Treasury spokesman for the opposition Labour Party, said in an e-mailed statement. He said Green “now has serious questions to answer about what he knew and when.”

The Department for Business, where Green is a minister, said it had no immediate comment.

Green had been floated as a possible successor to Mervyn King, who is due to retire as governor of the Bank of England next year. Bookmaker Paddy Power was offering odds of 6-1, meaning a one-pound ($1.56) wager would win six pounds if Green got the job. That ranked him fifth favourite, ahead of Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney. The scandal at HSBC may dent his chances.

HSBC has said that it’s cooperating with investigations by the U.S. Justice Department and other agencies into possible Iran sanctions violations. It’s also cooperating in unrelated probes by the Justice Department and the Internal Revenue Service into whether it helped Americans evade taxes through HSBC India.

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