HSBC released from U.S. deferred criminal charges

HSBC share price Group no longer faces prosecution threat in US

The agreement also pushed off any criminal prosecutions-making it a deal one observer said at the time amounted to "the world's largest wrist slap".

The Justice Department had accused HSBC of not implementing proper systems to catch money laundering, allowing at least $881 million in proceeds from the sale of illegal drugs to flow through the US financial system. In a subsequent report by Congress, HSBC was said to be "too big to jail" after George Osborne, chancellor at that time, intervened to warn U.S. officials against a criminal prosecution of the bank.

In a deferred prosecution agreement a prosecutor grants an amnesty in exchange for the defendant agreeing to fulfil certain requirements, often including the payment of a fine and a pledge to avoid further bad behaviour.

"While we still have improvements to make and work to do, this shows the DPA has worked in the way intended which was to lead to a transformation in the way HSBC manages financial crime risk", Stuart Levey, Chief Legal Officer at HSBC, said.

"HSBC lived up to all of its commitments, and, therefore, under the DPA, the Department of Justice will file a motion with the US District Court for the Eastern District of NY seeking the dismissal of the charges deferred by the agreement", the banking giant said in a statement released Monday.

HSBC is pleased that the Department of Justice has recognised HSBC's progress in strengthening its anti-money laundering and sanctions compliance capabilities over the past five years.

The New York Times reports that filings related to dismissing the charges lingering over HSBC had not been made by late morning in New York.

The DoJ's decision removes the threat of criminal prosecution from HSBC for the offences, in which the bank allegedly helped to launder $881m (£658m) for drug cartels in Mexico and Colombia.

As part of the agreements with the U.S. prosecutors and Britain's Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), HSBC also installed an independent monitor charged with producing annual reports on the progress of its reforms on fighting financial crime.

The bank paid authorities in the US more than $1.9 billion in a settlement. It pleaded guilty to conspiring to aid tax evasion and paid about $2.6 billion in penalties.

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