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HSBC Agrees To Settle Money-Laundering Case

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm David Greene.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

British banking giant HSBC will pay 1.9 billion dollars to the U.S. to settle allegations of money laundering. In a statement released overnight, the bank said it accepts responsibility for past mistakes. U.S. officials will have further details of the settlement later today. NPR's Jim Zarroli has more.

JIM ZARROLI, BYLINE: The settlement will be announced at a press conference in New York by the Justice Department and several other law enforcement agencies. HSBC is one of several foreign banks that have been under investigation for money laundering.

In 2010, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency cited the bank for suspicious transactions and a criminal investigation was launched. Over the summer, a Senate subcommittee said Mexican drug cartels had done business through the bank. In addition, the subcommittee said HSBC had processed transactions on behalf of Iran, Sudan and other countries that are barred from doing business in the U.S.

HSBC officials subsequently apologized for allowing the lapses to occur and hired financial experts to beef up their controls against money laundering. Now the bank has agreed to a sizable financial penalty as well.

HSBC is not the only foreign bank to be accused of money laundering. Yesterday, the British bank Standard Chartered agreed to pay $327 million to settle charges that it helped Iran and other countries evade U.S. sanctions. U.S. officials and the Manhattan District Attorney's office have also filed similar charges against Credit Suisse, ING and Barclays.

Jim Zarroli, NPR News, New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.