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Big Banks

HSBC ‘Big Bank’ Culture Hinders Efforts to Correct AML Issues

February 22, 2017

HSBC Holdings is under yet another investigation for failures in its AML compliance program, prompting an expert to tell the WSJournal that several high-profile hires apparently haven’t changed the bank’s culture. HSBC’s chief executive said, for his part, that the monitor “has raised certain concerns” but the bank has continued its progress on implementing reforms.


“By the end of this year, we are on track to have our anti-money laundering and sanctions policy framework in place and to have introduced major compliance IT systems across the group,” he said.


Ross Delston, a Washington, D.C.-based independent anti-money-laundering expert, said buy-in on compliance at the top of the bank is “occurring with a gun to the head” in the form of a monitor. Though HSBC has hired, among others, former top U.S. officials Stuart Levey and Jennifer Shasky Calvery, it’s “not the kind of change in course that’s long-lasting or penetrates the organization as a whole,” he said.


  • It isn’t enough to change compliance culture at the hands of a monitor enforcing a legal settlement.
  • It has to be done in a way that conveys substantive change, and not merely to fend off authorities
  • “That’s been the tendency of multinational banks of late: Wait out the monitor or the [timing] of the enforcement action, and then go back to what they were doing before."


[Click here to read … HSBC Faces FCA Probe into AML Controls as Profits Plunge]