U.K. Shadow Minister Calls for Green’s Answers Over HSBC Scandal

Shadow Financial Secretary to the U.K. Treasury, Chris Leslie, called for U.K. Trade Minister Stephen Green to publicly answer questions about his time as chief executive officer and chairman of HSBC Holdings Plc.

The U.S. Senate’s Homeland Security Sub Committee on Investigations released on July 16 a 335-page report describing a decade of compliance failures by Europe’s biggest bank. London-based HSBC enabled drug lords to launder money in Mexico, did business with firms linked to terrorism and concealed transactions that bypassed U.S. sanctions against Iran, Senate investigators said in the report. Green, who sits as a Conservative lawmaker in the upper House of Lords, served as chairman of HSBC between 2006 and 2010.

Leslie, member of the U.K. Parliament, has called Green for assurance that he took “every appropriate step” if and when he became aware of the issues raised by the U.S. subcommittee report. It is “a matter of significant public interest that you also have the opportunity to explain what, if anything, you were aware of during your time at the bank,” Leslie says in the letter addressed to Green and dated today.

Green has been urged to explain if he knew about the alleged circumvention of safeguards designed to block transactions to those with potential links to drug cartels, rogue regimes or terrorist organizations. He should explain what steps he took to mitigate circumstances where HSBC may have been disregarding terrorist financing links, Leslie said.

Leslie’s comments echo those of the Labour Party leader, Ed Miliband, who said Green must answer questions about his role while the head of HSBC. Green “must come to the House of Lords and answer questions” about “what he knew and when he knew it,” Miliband said July 19.

Leslie has also asked Green to say to what extent HSBC’s Head of Compliance David Bagley shared his concerns with him about the deficiencies in HSBC anti-money laundering controls. Bagley told a U.S. hearing on July 17 he would step down.

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