HSBC Holdings plc
Public limited company
Traded as LSE: HSBA
SEHK: 0005
Industry Banking, Financial services
  • First established on 3 March 1865 (1865-03-03) in Hong Kong[1] (as The Hongkong and Shanghai Bank)
  • First incorporated on 14 August 1866 (1866-08-14)[2](as The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation)
  • 25 March 1991 (1991-03-25)[1][3] (as HSBC Holdings plc, as parent holding company to the entity in Hong Kong now as a subsidiary)
Founder Thomas Sutherland
Headquarters HSBC Tower, London
Area served
Key people
Douglas Flint
(Group Chairman)
Stuart Gulliver
(Group Chief Executive)
Services Retail banking, corporate banking, investment banking, mortgage loans, private banking, wealth management, credit cards, finance and insurance
Revenue Decrease US$60.68 billion (2015)[4]
Increase US$22.36 billion (2015)[4]
Profit Increase US$15.53 billion (2015)[4]
Total assets Decrease US$2.410 trillion (2016)[5]
Total equity IncreaseUS$531.90 billion (2015)[4]
Number of employees
266,273 (2014)[4]
Subsidiaries Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, HSBC Bank plc, HSBC Bank USA, HSBC Bank India, HSBC Mexico, HSBC Bank Malaysia, HSBC Bank Middle East, HSBC Finance, Hang Seng Bank
Capital ratio 10.9%[6]

HSBC Holdings plc is a British-based multinational banking and financial services company headquartered in London, United Kingdom. It is the world's fourth largest bank by total assets, with total assets of US$2.67 trillion. It was established in its present form in London in 1991 by The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited to act as a new group holding company.[7][8] The origins of the bank lie mainly in Hong Kong and to a lesser extent in Shanghai, where branches were first opened in 1865.[1] The HSBC name is derived from the initials of the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation.[9] The company was first formally incorporated in 1866. The company continues to see both the United Kingdom and Hong Kong as its "home markets".[10]

HSBC has around 6,000 offices in 71 countries and territories across Africa, Asia, Oceania, Europe, North America and South America, and around 60 million customers.[11] As of 2014, it was the world's sixth-largest public company, according to a composite measure by Forbes magazine.[12]

HSBC is organised within four business groups: Commercial Banking; Global Banking and Markets (investment banking); Retail Banking and Wealth Management; and Global Private Banking.[13]

HSBC has a dual[14] primary listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the Hang Seng Index and the FTSE 100 Index. As of 6 July 2012 it had a market capitalization of £102.7 billion, the second-largest company listed on the London Stock Exchange, after Royal Dutch Shell.[15] It has secondary listings on the New York Stock Exchange, Euronext Paris and the Bermuda Stock Exchange.

In February 2015 the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists released information about the business conduct of HSBC under the title Swiss Leaks. The ICIJ alleges that the bank profited from doing business with tax evaders and other clients.[16] BBC reported that HSBC had put pressure on media not to report about the controversy, with British newspaper The Guardian claiming HSBC advertising had been put "on pause" after The Guardian's coverage of the matter.[17] Peter Oborne, chief political commentator at The Daily Telegraph resigned from the paper; in an open letter he claimed the newspaper suppressed negative stories and dropped investigations into HSBC because of the bank's advertising.[18]

HSBC has recently come back into notoriety due to its involvement in laundering money for Mexican cartels. Families involved in deaths by the organized crime gangs have sued HSBC for its involvement with processing funds for the Sinaloa Cartel.[19]


Origins, and until 2000

The HSBC Main Building in 1901 in Hong Kong, the headquarters of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation from 1886 to 1933 for its Hong Kong operation.
The HSBC Building in 2005 in Shanghai, the headquarters of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation from 1923 to 1955 for its Shanghai operation.
For more information on the history of HSBC prior to the founding of HSBC Holdings in 1991, see The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation.

"The Hongkong and Shanghai Bank" was founded by Scotsman Sir Thomas Sutherland in the then British colony of Hong Kong on 3 March 1865, and in Shanghai a month later, benefiting from the start of trading into China, including opium trading.[20] It was formally incorporated as "The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation" by an Ordinance of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong on 14 August 1866.[2] In 1980, HSBC acquired a 51% shareholding in US-based Marine Midland Bank, which it extended to full ownership in 1987. On 6 October 1989, it was renamed by the Legislative Council, by an amendment to its governing ordinance originally made in 1929, "The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited", and became registered as a regulated bank with the then Banking Commissioner of the Government of Hong Kong.[21]

"HSBC Holdings plc", originally incorporated in England and Wales, in the United Kingdom, as "Vernat Trading Company Limited" on 1 January 1959 and then renamed "Vernat Eastern Agencies Limited" later in the same year,[22] was by then a non-trading, dormant shelf company under a different, nominal name, when it completed its transformation on 25 March 1991[3] into the parent holding company to the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited now as a subsidiary, in preparation for its purchase of the UK-based Midland Bank and the impending transfer of sovereignty of Hong Kong to China. HSBC Holdings' acquisition of Midland Bank was completed in 1992 and gave HSBC a substantial market presence in the United Kingdom. As part of the takeover conditions for the acquisition, HSBC Holdings plc was required to relocate its world headquarters from Hong Kong to London in 1993.

Major acquisitions in South America started with the purchase of the Banco Bamerindus of Brazil for $1bn in March 1997[23] and the acquisition of Roberts SA de Inversiones of Argentina for $600m in May 1997.[24] In May 1999, HSBC expanded its presence in the United States with the purchase of Republic National Bank of New York for $10.3bn.[25]

2000 to 2010

The HSBC Main Building in Hong Kong, which was designed by Norman Foster and completed in 1985

Expansion into Continental Europe took place in April 2000 with the acquisition of Crédit Commercial de France, a large French bank for £6.6bn.[26] In July 2001 HSBC bought Demirbank, an insolvent Turkish bank.[27] In July 2002, Arthur Andersen announced that HSBC USA, Inc., through a new subsidiary, Wealth and Tax Advisory Services USA Inc. (WTAS), would purchase a portion of Andersen's tax practice. The new HSBC Private Client Services Group would serve the wealth and tax advisory needs of high-net-worth individuals. Then in August 2002 HSBC acquired Grupo Financiero Bital, SA de CV, Mexico's third largest retail bank for $1.1bn.[28]

In November 2002, HSBC expanded further in the United States. Under the chairmanship of Sir John Bond, it spent £9 billion (US$15.5 billion) to acquire Household Finance Corporation (HFC), a US credit card issuer and subprime lender.[29] In a 2003 cover story, The Banker noted "when banking historians look back, they may conclude that [it] was the deal of the first decade of the 21st century".[30] Under the new name of HSBC Finance, the division was the second largest subprime lender in the US.[31]

On 22 November 2001, the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corp would provide a fixed-rate mortgage to buyers of Cheung Kong (Holdings)' Victoria Towers residential development.[32]

The new headquarters of HSBC Holdings at 8 Canada Square, London officially opened in April 2003.[33]

In September 2003 HSBC bought Polski Kredyt Bank SA of Poland for $7.8m.[34] In June 2004 HSBC expanded into China buying 19.9% of the Bank of Communications of Shanghai.[35] In the United Kingdom HSBC acquired Marks & Spencer Retail Financial Services Holdings Ltd for £763m in December 2004.[36] Acquisitions in 2005 included Metris Inc, a US credit card issuer for $1.6bn in August[37] and 70.1% of Dar es Salaam Investment Bank of Iraq in October.[38] In April 2006, HSBC bought the 90 branches in Argentina of Banca Nazionale del Lavoro for $155m.[39] In December 2007 HSBC acquired the Chinese Bank in Taiwan.[40] In May 2008, HSBC acquired IL&FS Investment, an Indian retail broking firm.

In 2005, Bloomberg Markets magazine accused HSBC of money-laundering for drug dealers and state sponsors of terrorism. Then-CEO Stephen Green said that "This was a singular and wholly irresponsible attack on the bank's international compliance procedures", but subsequent investigation indicated that it was accurate and proved that the bank was involved in money laundering for the Sinaloa Cartel and throughout Mexico.[41][42][43][44][45] U.S. Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer characterised HSBC compliance during this period as "stunning failures of oversight – and worse ... The record of dysfunction that prevailed at HSBC for many years was astonishing."[46]

In March 2009, HSBC announced that it would shut down the branch network of its HSBC Finance arm in the U.S., leading to nearly 6,000 job losses and leaving only the credit card business to continue operating.[47][48] Chairman Stephen Green stated, "HSBC has a reputation for telling it as it is. With the benefit of hindsight, this is an acquisition we wish we had not undertaken."[49] According to analyst Colin Morton, "the takeover was an absolute disaster".[48][50]

Although it was at the centre of the subprime storm, the wider group has weathered the financial crisis of 2007–2010 better than other global banks. According to Bloomberg, "HSBC is one of world's strongest banks by some measures".[51] When HM Treasury required all UK banks to increase their capital in October 2007, the group transferred £750 million to London within hours, and announced that it had just lent £4 billion to other UK banks.[52] In March 2009, it announced that it had made US$9.3bn of profit in 2008 and announced a £12.5bn (US$17.7bn; HK$138bn) rights issue to enable it to buy other banks that were struggling to survive.[53] However, uncertainty over the rights' issue's implications for institutional investors caused volatility in the Hong Kong stock market: on 9 March 2009 HSBC's share price fell 24.14%, with 12 million shares sold in the last few seconds of trading.[54]

2010 to 2013

8 Canada Square, the world headquarters of HSBC in Canary Wharf, London

On 11 May 2011 the new chief executive Stuart Gulliver announced that HSBC would refocus its business strategy and that a large-scale retrenchment of operations, particularly in respect of the retail sector, was planned. HSBC would no longer seek to be 'the world's local bank', as costs associated with this were spiralling and US$3.5bn needed to be saved by 2013, with the aim of bringing overheads down from 55% of revenues to 48%. In 2010, then-chairman Stephen Green planned to depart HSBC to accept a government appointment in the Trade Ministry. Group Chief Executive Michael Geoghegan was expected to become the next chairman. However, while many current and former senior employees supported the tradition of promoting the chief executive to chairman, many shareholders instead pushed for an external candidate.[55][56] HSBC's board of directors had reportedly been split over the succession planning, and investors were alarmed that this row would damage the company.[57]

On 23 September 2010, Geoghegan announced he would step down as chief executive of HSBC.[58] He was succeeded as chief executive of HSBC by Stuart Gulliver, while Green was succeeded as Chairman by Douglas Flint; Flint was serving as HSBC's finance director (chief financial officer). August 2011: Further to CEO Stuart Gulliver's plan to cut $3.5 billion in costs over the next 2 years, HSBC announced that it will cut 25,000 jobs and exit from 20 countries by 2013 in addition to 5,000 job- cuts announced earlier in the year. The consumer banking division of HSBC will focus on the UK, Hong Kong, high-growth markets such as Mexico, Singapore, Turkey and Brazil, and smaller countries where it has a leading market share.[59] According to Reuters, Chief Executive Stuart Gulliver told the media, "There will be further job cuts. There will be something like 25,000 roles eliminated between now and the end of 2013."[60][61]

In August 2011 "to align our U.S. business with our global network and meet the local and international needs of domestic and overseas clients", HSBC agreed to sell 195 branches in New York and Connecticut to First Niagara Financial Group Inc for around $1 billion and announced the closure of 13 branches in Connecticut and New Jersey. The rest of HSBC's U.S. network will only be about half from a total 470 branches before divestments.[62] On 9 August 2011, Capital One Financial Corp. agreed to acquire HSBC's U.S. credit card business for $2.6 billion,[63] netting HSBC Holdings an estimated after-tax profit of $2.4 billion.[64] In September it was announced that HSBC seeks to sell its general insurance business for around $1 billion.

In 2012, HSBC was the subject of hearings of the U.S. Senate permanent subcommittee for investigations for severe deficiencies in its anti-money laundering practices (see #Controversies). On 16 July the committee presented its findings.[65][66][67] Among other things it concluded that HSBC had been transferring $7 billion in banknotes from its Mexican to its US subsidiary (much of it related to drug dealing[68]), was disregarding terrorist financing links[43] and was actively circumventing U.S. safeguards to block transactions involving terrorists, drug lords and rogue regimes, including hiding $19.4 billion in transactions with Iran. This investigation followed on from a probe by the US Federal Reserve and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency found that there was "significant potential for unreported money laundering or terrorist financing".[69]

On 11 December 2012, HSBC agreed to pay a record $1.92 billion fine in this money laundering case. "Bank officials repeatedly ignored internal warnings that HSBC's monitoring systems were inadequate, the Justice Department said. In 2008, for example, the CEO of HSBC Mexico was told that Mexican law enforcement had a recording of a Mexican drug lord saying that HSBC Mexico was the place to launder money."[70] The DOJ, however, decided not to pursue criminal penalties, a decision which the New York Times labelled a "dark day for the rule of law."[71] HSBC chief executive Stuart Gulliver said: "We accept responsibility for our past mistakes. We have said we are profoundly sorry for them, and we do so again."[70]

A 32-page brochure published on the HSBC website provides details of 2012 results in terms of markets, strategies, and businesses, as well as giving an outline of future plans.[72]

In July 2013, Alan Keir was appointed Chief Executive of HSBC Bank plc after Brian Robertson resigned from his post. Keir's duties include overseeing the firm's UK, European, Middle Eastern and African divisions.[73]

Since 2013

In June 2014, an indirect wholly owned subsidiary HSBC Life (UK) Limited agreed to sell its £4.2 billion UK pensions business to Swiss Re.[74] In February 2015 the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists released information about the business conduct of HSBC under the title Swiss Leaks based on the 2007 hacked HSBC account records from whistleblower Hervé Falciani. The ICIJ alleges that the bank profited from doing business with corrupt politicians, dictators, tax evaders, dealers of blood diamonds, arms dealers and other clients.[16] US Senate investigators in 2012 had sought the hacked HSBC account records from Falciani and French authorities, but never received the data.[75]

HSBC announced in August 2015 that it would be selling its Brazilian unit to Banco Bradesco for $5.2 billion following years of disappointing performance.[76]

In 2015, HSBC was recognized as the most trusted foreign bank in India by The Brand Trust Report 2015.[77]

In 2016 the bank was mentioned numerous times in connection with the Panama Papers investigation. Many Syrians were angered when their accounts were judged high-risk and closed, despite the bank reportedly telling Mossack Fonseca it was "comfortable" with Rami Makhlouf as a customer, even though US Treasury sanctions against him were in effect at the time.[78]


A map showing the countries of the world in which HSBC currently has operations

HSBC has its world headquarters at 8 Canada Square in Canary Wharf, London.[79]

HSBC has a significant presence in each of the world's major financial markets, with the Americas, Asia Pacific and Europe each representing around one third of its business. HSBC is the largest bank in Hong Kong and prints most of Hong Kong's local currency in its own name. As of 2014, according to Relsbank, HSBC was the fourth-largest bank in the world by assets (with $2,670.00  billion), the second largest in terms of revenues (with $146.50 billion) and the largest in terms of market value (with $180.81 billion). It was also the most profitable bank in the world with $19.13 billion in net income in 2007 (compared to Citigroup's $3.62 billion and Bank of America's $14.98 billion in the same period).[80] In June 2006, The Economist stated that since the end of 2005 HSBC has been rated the largest banking group in the world by Tier 1 capital.[81] In June 2014 The Banker ranked HSBC first in Western Europe and 5th in the world for Tier 1 capital.[82] In February 2008, HSBC was named the world's most valuable banking brand by The Banker magazine.[83][84]

HSBC is known for a conservative and risk-averse approach to business – a company tradition going back to the 19th century.[85] This reputation has been brought into question in the 21st century.

In its technical management, however, HSBC has recently suffered a series of headline-making incidents in which some customer data were allegedly leaked or simply went missing. Although the consequences turned out to be small, the embarrassing effect on the group's image did not go unnoticed.[86]

HSBC has been audited by PwC, one of the Big Four auditors since 2015.[87]

HSBC entered Brunei in 1947. However, on April 2016, HSBC commenced winding down its operations in the country citing HSBC Group’s global review to optimise its global network and reduce complexity as outlined during the HSBC Investor Update on 9 June 2015.[88][89]

Principal subsidiaries

The HSBC building in Manila, Philippines
HSBC Group Service Center, Sri lanka

Asia Pacific



Middle East and North Africa

HSBC has maintained its presence in Beirut, Lebanon ever since 1946, thus the first in the middle east

Principal business groups and divisions

HSBC organises its customer-facing activities within four business groups: Commercial Banking; Global Banking and Markets (investment banking); Retail Banking and Wealth Management (RBWM); and Global Private Banking.[13]

Commercial Banking

HSBC provides financial services to small, medium-sized and middle-market enterprises. The group has more than 3 million of such customers, including sole proprietors, partnerships, clubs and associations, incorporated businesses and publicly quoted companies.

Global Banking & Markets

Global Banking and Markets is the investment banking arm of HSBC. It provides investment banking and financing solutions for corporate and institutional clients, including corporate banking, investment banking, capital markets, trade services, payments and cash management, and leveraged acquisition finance. It provides services in equities, credit and rates, foreign exchange, money markets and securities services, in addition to asset management services.

Global Banking and Markets has offices in more than 60 countries and territories worldwide, and describes itself as "emerging markets-led and financing-focused".[91] It is currently being led by former fixed-income trader Samir Assaf, who was promoted from global head of markets on 10 December 2010.[92]

Global Private Banking

Main article: HSBC Private Bank
The main London office of HSBC Private Bank in St James's

HSBC Private Bank is the marketing name for the private banking business conducted by the principal private banking subsidiaries of the HSBC Group worldwide. HSBC Private Bank, together with the private banking activities of HSBC Trinkaus, known collectively as Group Private Banking, provides services to high-net-worth individuals and their families through 93 locations in some 42 countries and territories in Europe, the Asia-Pacific region, the Americas, the Middle East and Africa. According to the Scorpio Partnership Global Private Banking Benchmark 2014, the bank had 382 USD Bn of assets under management (AuM) a decrease of 4% on the 2013 figure.[93]

In September 2008, HSBC announced that it would combine its two Swiss private banks under one brand name in 2009, with HSBC Guyerzeller and HSBC Private Bank to be merged into one legal entity, under the newly appointed CEO of HSBC Private Bank, Alexandre Zeller.[94]

Retail banking and wealth management

HSBC provides more than 54 million[95] customers worldwide with a full range of personal financial services, including current and savings accounts, mortgage loans, car financing, insurance, credit cards, loans, pensions and investments.

Retail Banking and Wealth Management (also known as RBWM) was previously referred to as Personal Financial Services (PFS). This rename was announced during HSBC's 2011 Investor Day.[96]

Group service centres

HSBC office in Visakhapatnam

As a cost-saving measure HSBC is offshoring processing work to lower cost economies in order to reduce the cost of providing services in developed countries. These locations take on work such as data processing and customer service, but also internal software engineering at Pune (India), Gurgaon (India), Bangalore (India), Chennai (India), Hyderabad (India), Vishakhapatnam (India), Kolkata (India), Guangzhou (China), Curitiba (Brazil) and Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia).

The HSBC Global Technology Centre in Pune, India[97]

Chief Operating Officer Alan Jebson said in March 2005 that he would be very surprised if fewer than 25,000 people were working in the centres over the next three years: "I don't have a precise target but I would be surprised if we had less than 15 (global service centres) in three years' time." He went on to say that each centre cost the bank from $20m to $30m to set up, but that for every job moved the bank saves about $20,000 (£10,400).[98]

Trades unions, particularly in the UK and US, blame these centres for job losses in developed countries, and also for the effective imposition of wage caps on their members.[98]

Currently, HSBC operates centres out of nine countries, including; United Kingdom (Leeds, Hamilton, Edinburgh, Swansea, Manchester, Coventry & Leicester), Brazil (Curitiba), the Czech Republic (Ostrava), India (Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Visakhapatnam, Bombay, Gurgaon and Pune), China (Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen), Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur), Poland (Kraków), Sri Lanka (Rajagiriya) and the Philippines (Manila). The Malta trial for a UK high value call centre has resulted in a growing operation that country. An option under consideration is reported to be a processing centre in Vietnam to access the French skills of the population and therefore cut costs in the bank's French operations.

Global product lines

HSBC Direct

HSBC Direct is a telephone/online direct banking operation which attracts customers through mortgages, accounts and savings. It was first launched in the USA[99] in November 2005 and is based on HSBC's 'First Direct' subsidiary in Britain which was launched in the 1980s. The service is now also available in Canada,[100] Taiwan,[101] South Korea,[102] France and India.[103] Poland is launching business direct in September 2009. In the US, HSBC Direct is now part of HSBC Advance[104]


HSBCnet[105] is a global service that caters to local business needs by offering specialised functionality for different regions worldwide.

The system provides access to transaction banking functionality – ranging from payments and cash management to trade services features – as well as to research and analytical content from HSBC. It also includes foreign exchange and money markets trading functionality.

The system is used widely by HSBC's high-end corporate and institutional clients served variously by the bank's global banking and markets, commercial banking and global transaction banking divisions.

HSBCnet is also the brand under which HSBC markets its global e-commerce proposition to its corporate and institutional clients.

HSBC Advance

HSBC Advance[106] is the group's product aimed at working professionals. The exact benefits and qualifications vary depending on country, but typically require a transfer of Salary of USD 1,500 or more every month or Maintain USD 25,000 of deposits in a Savings/Current Account or investments. Advantages may vary depending on country, such as day-to-day banking services including but not limited to a Platinum Credit Card, Advance ATM Card, Current Account and Savings Account. Protection plans and Financial Planning Services. A HSBC Advance customer enables the customer to open accounts in another country and transfer their credit history.

HSBC Premier

HSBC Premier[107] is the group's premium financial services product. It has its own Elite Card entitled HSBC Premier World Card. The exact benefits and qualification criteria vary depending on country. Customers have a dedicated Premier Relationship Manager, global 24-hour access to call centres, free banking services and preferential rates. A HSBC Premier customer receives the HSBC Premier services in all countries that offer HSBC Premier, without having to meet that country's qualifying criteria ("Premier in One, Premier in All").[108]


Money laundering

Money laundering has been an issue in Argentina, India, Mexico, the United Kingdom, the United States and Switzerland.

Following search warrants and raids beginning in January 2013, in mid-March 2013 Argentina's main taxing authority accused HSBC of using fake receipts and dummy accounts to facilitate money laundering and tax evasion.[109][110][111]

On 19 July 2012, India investigated alleged violation of safety compliance, in which Indian employees were believed to be involved.[112] On 9 November 2012, Indian activist and politician Arvind Kejriwal said he had details of 700 Indian bank accounts hiding black money with a total value of 60 billion (US$890 million) with HSBC in Geneva.[113] In June 2013, a media outlet in India did an undercover expose where HSBC officers were caught on camera agreeing to launder "black money." HSBC placed these employees on leave pending their own internal investigation.[114]

In early February 2013, appearing before UK's Parliamentary Banking Standards Commission, CEO Stuart Gulliver acknowledged that the structure of the bank had been "not fit for purpose." He also stated, "Matters that should have been shared and escalated were not shared and escalated."[115] HSBC has also been accused of laundering money for terrorist groups.[115][116]

In both 2003 and 2010, U.S. regulators ordered HSBC to strengthen its anti-money laundering practices.[117] In October 2010, the United States OCC issued a Cease and Desist Order requiring HSBC to strengthen multiple aspects of its Anti-Money Laundering (AML) program. The identified problems included a once massive backlog of over 17,000 alerts identifying suspicious activity, failure to file timely suspicious activity reports with U.S. law enforcement, failure to conduct any due diligence to assess risks to HSBC affiliates before opening correspondent accounts for them, a three-year failure by HBUS from mid-2006 to mid-2009 to conduct any AML of $15 billion in bulk cash transactions from those same HSBC affiliates, failure to monitor $60 trillion in annual wire transfers by customers in countries rated lower risk by HBUS, and inadequate and unqualified AML staffing, resources, and leadership. It was noted that HSBC fully cooperated with the Senate investigation.[118]

In November 2012 it was reported that HSBC had set up offshore accounts in Jersey for suspected drug-dealers and other criminals, and that HM Revenue and Customs had launched an investigation following a whistleblower leaking details of £700 million allegedly held in HSBC accounts in the Crown dependency .[119]

In June 2015 HSBC was fined by the Geneva authorities after an investigation into money laundering within its Swiss subsidiary. The fine was 40 million Swiss Francs.

2012 US Senate investigation

In July 2012, a US Senate committee issued a report[120] which stated that HSBC had been in breach of money-laundering rules, had assisted Iran and North Korea circumvent US nuclear-weapons sanctions,[121][122] and other violations.

In December 2012, Assistant U.S. Attorney General Lanny Breuer suggested that the U.S. government might resist criminal prosecution of HSBC which could lead to the loss of the bank's U.S. charter. He stated, "Our goal here is not to bring HSBC down, it's not to cause a systemic effect on the economy, it's not for people to lose thousands of jobs."[117]

In December 2012, HSBC was penalized $1.9 billion (US), the largest fine under the Bank Secrecy Act, for violating four U.S. laws designed to protect the U.S. financial system.[123] HSBC had allegedly laundered at least $881 million in drugs proceeds through the U.S. financial system for international cartels, as well as processing an additional $660 million for banks in US sanctioned countries. According to the report, "The U.S. bank subsidiary [also] failed to monitor more than $670 billion in wire transfers and more than $9.4 billion in purchases of physical dollars from its Mexico unit."[123] As part of the agreement deferring its prosecution, HSBC acknowledged that for years it had ignored warning signs that drug cartels in Mexico were using its branches to launder millions of dollars, and also acknowledged that HSBC's international staff had stripped identifying information on transactions made through the United States from countries facing economic sanctions such as Iran and Sudan.[117]

A February 2013 article in Rolling Stone magazine, which was critical of what they regarded as the timid response by the U.S. Justice Department, stated "Yes, they issued a fine – $1.9 billion, or about five weeks' profit – but they didn't extract so much as one dollar or one day in jail from any individual, despite a decade of stupefying abuses" and further stated, "In this case, the bank literally got away with murder – well, aiding and abetting it, anyway."[124] A December 2012 CNNMoney article compared the 1.9 billion dollar fine to HSBC's profit "last year" (2011) of 16.8 billion.[117]

$3.5 billion currency scheme

In July 2016 the Justice Department charged two executives from HSBC Bank over an alleged $3.5 billion currency scheme. Which defrauded HSBC clients and "manipulated the foreign exchange market to benefit themselves and their bank".[125] "Mark Johnson and Stuart Scott, both British citizens, are being accused".[126] "Johnson was arrested late Tuesday [July 19, 2016] at JFK International Airport in New York City." [126] "Stuart Scott, who was HSBC’s European head of foreign exchange trading in London until December 2014, is accused of the same crimes. A warrant was issued for Scott’s arrest." [125]

Other controversies


In the report titled "In the Future There Will Be No Forests Left" produced by Global Witness, the bank is also being accused of supporting the seven largest Malaysian timber conglomerates which are responsible for rapid deforestation in the Malaysian state of Sarawak without any FSC certifications.[127] However, the bank declined to divulge its clients on this issue, citing the confidentiality of its clients; but the bank maintains that the accusations that its clients violate forestland and forest-products policy is not accurate.[128]

Gaddafi regime in Libya

HSBC also held billions of dollars of assets for the Libyan Investment Authority, which was controlled by Colonel Muammar Gaddafi; after Gaddafi's overthrow and assassination, the bank refused to reveal information about the funds, citing customer confidentiality.[129][130][131]

Heavy-handed application of money-laundering rules

In 2014, HSBC refused to allow customers to withdraw large cash amounts without a third-party letter confirming what the money would be used for.[132] Douglas Carswell, the Conservative MP for Clacton, was alarmed by the HSBC policy: "All these regulations which have been imposed on banks allow enormous interpretation. It basically infantilises the customer. In a sense your money becomes pocket money and the bank becomes your parent."

In 2014, HSBC closed North London Central Mosque's account and some Muslim clients' and groups' accounts.[133][134][135][136][137][138][139] Several sources report that allegedly HSBC closed them because they donated their money to Gaza through Hamas linked charities during the 2014 Israel–Gaza war.[140][141][142]

Staff lay-offs

In June 2015, HSBC announced a reduction in the number of employees that work for the company, expected to be between 10,000 and 20,000 people.[143]

Payments-processing failures

In August 2015, HSBC failed to process BACS payments, leaving thousands of people without their salaries.[144] This left customers unable to complete house purchases, and unable to pay for essential home care.[144]


The group announced in November 1998 that the HSBC brand and the hexagon symbol would be adopted as the unified brand in all the markets where HSBC operates, with the aim of enhancing recognition of the group and its values by customers, shareholders and staff throughout the world.

The hexagon symbol was originally adopted by the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation as its logo in 1983. It was developed from the bank's house flag, a white rectangle divided diagonally to produce a red hourglass shape. Like many other Hong Kong company flags that originated in the 19th century, and because of its founder's nationality, the design was based on the cross of Saint Andrew. The logo was designed by Austrian graphic artist Henry Steiner.[145]


The 2004 Jaguar Racing Formula One car, being driven by Mark Webber

Having sponsored the Jaguar Racing Formula One team since the days of Stewart Grand Prix, HSBC ended its relationship with motorsport when Red Bull purchased Jaguar Racing from Ford.

HSBC has now switched its focus to golf, taking title sponsorship of events such as the HSBC World Match Play Championship, HSBC Women's World Match Play Championship (now defunct), HSBC Champions, Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship, HSBC Women's Champions, HSBC Golf Business Forum and HSBC Golf Roots (a youth development programme). HSBC was named the 'Official Banking Partner' of the Open Championship, in a five-year deal announced in 2010.[146]

In October 2010 the International Rugby Board announced that they had concluded a 5-year deal with HSBC which granted them status as the first ever title sponsor of the World Sevens Series. Through the accord, HSBC is paying more than $100 million for the title naming rights to all the tournaments. HSBC opted to sub-license the naming rights to all but one of the individual tournaments, while retaining its name sponsorship of the overall series and the Hong Kong Sevens.[147] The company also sponsors the Hong Kong Rugby Union and the New South Wales Waratahs team in Super Rugby. It sponsored the 2009 British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa.[148]

In football, HSBC sponsors French club AS Monaco and Mexican club C.F. Pachuca. It also sponsors the Telford Raiders in the Rugby League Conference, the Hawthorn Football Club in the Australian Football League, the Mexican Tennis Open and the Campeonato Argentino Abierto de Polo.

HSBC is the official banking partner of the Wimbledon Championships tennis tournament, providing banking facilities on site and renaming the junior event as the HSBC Road to Wimbledon National 14 and Under Challenge.[149]

In 2007, HSBC announced it would be a sponsor of the National Hockey League's Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames.

HSBC's other sponsorships are mainly in the area of education, health and the environment. In November 2006, HSBC announced a $5 million partnership with SOS Children as part of Future First.[150]

HSBC sponsors the Great Canadian Geography Challenge, which has had around 2 million participants in the past 12 years. Since 2001, HSBC has sponsored the Celebration of Light, an annual musical fireworks competition in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. HSBC has also sponsored a professional gaming team that was disbanded late 2007. HSBC is also committed to local sponsorships, the Mandarins Cricket Club being one example.

See also


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