Banking giant HSBC is to pay more than $100m to settle a US currency-rigging case being brought by the Department of Justice (DoJ).
HSBC agreed last night to pay a $63.1m criminal penalty and $38.4m restitution over charges it engaged in a scheme to defraud two bank clients through a multi-million dollar scheme known as ‘front-running’.
Last October, a former HSBC employee, Mark Johnson, was convicted of fraud in connection with the case.
“HSBC’s admissions… confirm that the company misused confidential client information for its own profit on more than one occasion,” said DoJ acting assistant attorney General Cronan.
“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.”
Multi-billion dollar transactions
According to the DoJ, HSBC admitted that, on two occasions, traders on its foreign exchange desk had misused confidential information provided by clients to execute multi-billion dollar foreign exchange transactions.
After signing confidentiality agreements with its clients, the traders transacted large sterling deals for their own and HSBC’s benefit.
The traders then caused the large transactions “to be executed in a manner designed to drive the price of the pound Sterling in a direction that benefited HSBC, and harmed their clients”.
FBI special agent in charge Timothy Slater said: “HSBC defrauded two bank clients in a front-running scheme that enabled them to acquire millions of dollars to benefit their institution and harm their clients.
“The FBI remains dedicated to ensuring the integrity is upheld in the financial services industry, and prosecuting those who engage in illegal business practices.”