Seoul follows up claims about banks
SEOUL — South Korea said on Thursday that it would investigate the operations of HSBC Holdings and Standard Chartered over money-laundering allegations and hiding transactions of sanctions-hit Iran.
South Korea’s Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) said it would conduct the local checks after allegations were made against the British banks in the US and Mexico over laundering charges for organised crime and allegedly hiding $250bn of Iranian sanctions breaches respectively.
Standard Chartered CEO Peters Sands said this week the US claims were "disproportionate" and a "complete surprise". He denied there were grounds for regulators to suspend the bank’s licence in New York.
The regulator noted that HSBC’s Mexican unit was fined last month after failing to report suspicious financial transactions related to the drugs trade, and the bank’s US unit is reportedly under investigation over money laundering allegations.
The FSS official, who declined to be named, said the regulator would conduct the checks later this month.
Korean units of HSBC and Standard Chartered said they were in contact with the regulator.
Last month, HSBC set aside $700m to cover fines and other costs after a US Senate report criticised the bank for letting dangerous and secretive clients shift funds from several countries, most notably Mexico.
Elsewhere in Asia, the Reserve Bank of India and Australian Prudential Regulation Authority declined to comment.
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