5th February 2016
A judge in the US has sided with customers and demanded HSBC publish the findings of a report on the bank’s attempts to clamp down on money-laundering.
An independent monitor placed with the bank has written a 250-page report on money-laundering which the bank and the US government had tried to stop going public.
However, a challenge from a disgruntled customer has seen the federal judge rule the document should be accessible, citing the First Amendment of the American constitution which protects free speech and the freedom of the press.
The customer, 52-year-old Hubert Dean Moore, a chemist from Philadelphia, demanded to see the report after HSBC sold his mortgage debt to another bank without informing him.
Last month, Moore took the bank to court, representing himself.
Judge John Gleeson said: ‘I find that the report is a judicial record, and that the public has a First Amendment right to see the report.’
The decision could be a further blow to HSBC, which has been trying to restore its beleaguered reputation and may concern other banks that have struck deals with the US government allowing them to keep such reports private, such as Standard Chartered.
The monitor was hired by US lawmakers to ensure the bank had overhauled its processes as a condition of HSBC £1.1 billion money-laundering settlement with US regulators in 2012. It was accused of allowing Mexican drug cartels and terrorists to launder billions.
Part of HSBC’s plea bargain was that the report would be kept secret.
Moore said: ‘This is a monumental victory for a courageous customer.’