HSBC to pay U.S. penalty of $1.9 bil­lion

Austin American-Statesman - - BUSINESS -

Amer­i­can au­thor­i­ties on Tues­day cited “as­ton­ish­ing” dys­func­tion at the Bri­tish bank HSBC and said it had helped Mex­i­can drug traf­fick­ers, Iran, Libya and oth­ers un­der U.S. sus­pi­cion or sanc­tion to move money around the world.

HSBC agreed to pay $1.9 bil­lion, the largest penalty ever im­posed on a bank.

The U.S. stopped short of charg­ing ex­ec­u­tives, cit­ing the bank’s im­me­di­ate, full co­op­er­a­tion and dam­age an as­sault on the com­pany might cause on economies and thou­sands who would lose jobs if the bank col­lapsed.

Out­side ex­perts said it was ev­i­dence that a doc­trine of “too big to fail,” or at least “too big to pros­e­cute,” was alive and well four years af­ter the ffi­nan­cial cri­sis.

The set­tle­ment avoided a le­gal bat­tle that could fur­ther sav­age the bank’s rep­u­ta­tion and un­der­mine conf­fi­dence in the bank­ing sys­tem.

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