Press release | Oct. 19, 2017

UK banks’ money laundering risks in South Africa show why senior bankers must be held to account

Today it has been revealed that the Chancellor Philip Hammond has called on UK regulators and law enforcement to review concerns raised by Lord Peter Hain that HSBC and Standard Chartered may “have been conduits for the corrupt proceeds of money"

The claims are related to a corruption inquiry into alleged links between the Gupta family and South African President Jacob Zuma, which has already had a significant impact on major UK firms including the public relations firm Bell Pottinger and KPMG.

Responding to the news, Murray Worthy, Senior Campaigner on Banks and Corruption said:

"It's no surprise that HSBC and Standard Chartered are yet again suspected of handling dirty cash.

The UK government admits that hundreds of billions of pounds are laundered through UK banks and their subsidiaries every year, yet usually the worst they face is a slap on the wrist and a small fine. 

While the people of South Africa, a country struggling with vast inequality, are losing out, the senior bankers who should be responsible for preventing their banks handling corrupt cash are never held to account. 

Until senior executives are held personally responsible and banks face serious fines, they will continue to not take the corruption risks of the cash they handle seriously enough."

Global Witness’ 2015 report Banks and Dirty Money showed how major banks handled dirty money and why senior executives need to be held personally responsible when banks break the rules. 



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