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HSBC fears U.S. money laundering fines to hit $1.5 billion

  • HSBC could pay up to $1.5 billion in fines for U.S. anti-money laundering rule breaches and is likely to lead to criminal charges, Europe's biggest bank revealed on Monday.

    HSBC said the U.S. investigation had damaged the bank's reputation and forced it to put aside a further $800 million to cover potential fines for breaching anti-money laundering controls in Mexico. This is in addition the $700 million it set aside in July.

    "It could be significantly higher," Chief Executive Stuart Gulliver told reporters on a conference call, adding that the latest figure was based on discussions with the U.S. authorities involved in the investigation.

    In July, a U.S. Senate report hit out at HSBC for letting clients move potentially illicit funds from countries such as Mexico, Iran, the Cayman Islands, Saudi Arabia and Syria.

    The London-based bank had expressed concern earlier in the year that it may face criminal or civil charges as part of the probe.