Banking giant HSBC will pay $101.5m to US authorities to settle a criminal investigation into currency rigging. Europe’s biggest bank has entered a three-year deferred prosecution agreement with the US Department of Justice (DoJ) in which it will stomach a $63.1m fine and pay $38.4m in restitution.
The investigation centred on HSBC’s foreign exchange (FX) traders who misused confidential client information in 2010 and 2011 during multibillion-dollar FX transactions. Shares were marginally lower in morning trading on the London Stock Market.
US acting assistant attorney general John Cronan said: “HSBC’s admissions in connection with this resolution confirm that the company misused confidential client information for its own profit on more than one occasion. “This sort of misconduct not only harmed their clients, costing the victims money, but it also ran a serious risk of undermining the public’s confidence in our financial markets.”
The outcome marks a 15% drop in the financial penalty facing the bank because it co-operated during the investigation. In a statement HSBC said: “The conduct described in the agreement occurred in 2010 and 2011.
“Since then, HSBC has introduced a number of measures designed to make the control environment in its Global Markets business more robust. “The DoJ recognises these extensive improvements, noting that HSBC has dedicated significant resources to strengthening its systems and controls.”
The move comes after HSBC reached settlements over its forex trading business with the Financial Conduct Authority and US Commodity Futures Trading Commission in November 2014. HSBC reported a near five-fold rise in third-quarter profits in October, as it pushed forward with its cost-cutting programme and benefited from its pivot to Asia.
The lender said pre-tax profits rose to $4.6bn in the three months to September 30, marking a 448% jump compared to $843m during the same period in 2016.