Questions mount for trade minister Lord Green
The Trade Minister Lord (Stephen) Green was today refusing to answer questions about what he knew about the large-scale money laundering at HSBC, which was exposed by the US Senate Investigations Committee in a damning report yesterday.
Green was Chief Executive and then Chairman of HSBC between 2003 and 2010, coinciding with the very the period in which the Senate accuses HSBC of money laundering hundreds millions of dollars to organised criminals, drug dealers and terrorists around the globe.
On Tuesday, in an appearance before the Senate committee in Washington, HSBC’s Head of Compliance, David Bagley, resigned.
In its 330-page report the Senate committee highlights an email written by David Bagley to Stephen Green in January 2005 alerting him to some of the money-laundering problems:
“Stephen,” Bagley wrote, “there are two matters which I should briefly draw to your attention given their seriousness and potential repercussions.”
The first matter involved “fabricated records” and attendance sheets at HSBC’s subsidiary in Mexico.
The second problem related to a transaction of $2.9 million which found its way to Burma, in apparent contravention of the US trade embargo on Burma. “There appears little doubt that the transaction is a breach of the relevant sanction,” Bagley warned Green, adding that “there is a significant risk of financial penalty.”
And Green’s name crops up several more times in the documentation.
In October 2007 he was copied in on an email which highlighted “slow progress is tackling … anti-money laundering procedures”. Emails forwarded to Stephen Green in 2008 spoke of “operational weaknesses in HSBC in many areas, including frauds … money laundering processes” and “suspicious internal activity”. A colleague said this was “most disturbing and we will have to have the most thorough of investigations”.
The Labour Party is pressing Lord Green to say what he knew and when he knew it.
The Trade Minister steadfastly refused to answer today, and Downing Street seem to be standing by him, but I can’t see how Green can remain silent for very long. And next week Green begins hosting a series of trade events in London for Olympic visitors.
People also want to question Lord Green about what he knew about the Libor scandal, too, since between 2006 and 2010 he was also chairman of the British Bankers Association which runs the Libor interest rate system. And all this is more pertinent when you recall that as well as being a minister, Green is also an adviser to George Osborne – on banking.
Stephen Green is an unsual man to be a government minister in that he is also an ordained Anglican priest. And in 2009, while he was still Chairman of HSBC, Green even wrote a book on the ethics of business called “Good value: Reflections on money, morality and an uncertain world”.
I’m going to try and buy a copy.
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