United Kingdom banks exposed to money laundering

United Kingdom banks exposed to money laundering

Ministers confirmed that the Chancellor has asked the "relevant authorities" to look at whether banks including HSBC and Standard Chartered acted as "conduits" for laundered money.

According to letters seen by the Guardian, Philip Hammond has passed concerns raised by former Labour cabinet minister Peter Hain to the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), National Crime Agency (NCA) and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Hain on Thursday asked Hammond also to ensure that Bank of Baroda is investigated by British financial watchdogs along with HSBC and Standard Chartered.

The Guptas are at the heart of a political scandal in South Africa over allegations that they used a friendship with President Jacob Zuma to influence state business.

Standard Chartered has previously said that it closed the accounts used the in transactions in early 2014.

Explaining his reasons for asking for probes of HSBC and Standard Chartered, he says that the majority of the funds in question flowed through the UAE and Hong Kong, where the two banks have their biggest footprints.

The family, founders of a business empire spanning media, mining and consulting, have been named in a trove of leaked emails alleging graft in dealing with South Africa's state-owned companies, which also named several global firms.




An FCA spokesperson told The National that the regulator is already in contact with both banks and "will consider carefully further responses received".

The brothers, who moved to South Africa in 1993, have denied a string of allegations about alleged corruption.

The long arm of the law is finally catching up with South Africa's crony capitalist Guptas and their network of criminality and corruption.

On Thursday the Financial Times reported that the FBI has opened an investigation into U.S. links to the Guptas, and to track illicit funds linked to the family via Hong Kong and Dubai. A spokesman has declined to comment on why the statement was removed.

Lord Bates said ministers were grateful to Lord Hain for drawing the issue to the Chancellor's attention and assured peers the United Kingdom had some of the toughest anti-money laundering laws in the world.

He said he was not accusing British banks of complicity in money-laundering but wanted them to help recoup any funds that have left the country by illicit means.

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