HSBC is “cast-iron certain” to have another huge regulatory slip-up in the future, and is fighting an uphill battle to legitimize its global operations, one of the bank's top officials admitted in recorded comments leaked to British newspaper, the Guardian.
Global head of sanctions Lee Hale conceded that the bank was yet to comply with sanctions policy, and that screening of financial transactions was not yet in place. The leaked comments conflict with official statements made by HSBC's chief executive, who claimed that the bank was fundamentally reconstructed.
HSBC executives from around the globe have striven to reassure the British government that the bank bares no resemblance to when the Swiss branch enabled large-scale tax evasion.
“In terms of actually tightening HSBC, making it a simpler business, making it a business that actually follows the highest standards of money-laundering controls, knowing our customers and tax transparency, substantial root-and-branch reforms have taken place,” Stuart Gulliver, HSBC’s chief executive told a government committee in February.
However, the audio recording released to the Guardian of a private meeting reveals Hales views on the difficulty the bank still faces to clean up its image.
HSBC has denied knowledge of the comments in the recording, which it says were taken out of context.