November 9, 2018 / 4:09 PM / 4 days ago

South African central bank fines HSBC for lax money laundering controls

FILE PHOTO: A HSBC and a Barclays bank building is seen at Canary Wharf in London, Britain May 17, 2017. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth/File Photo

(Reuters) - South Africa’s central bank on Friday fined HSBC’s (HSBA.L) local business 15 million rand (844,927 pounds) for weaknesses in its processes meant to detect money laundering and terrorism financing, and ordered the bank to fix the problems.

The Prudential Authority (PA), which sits within the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) and monitors the country’s lenders, said HSBC’s South African branch had already taken the measures required to address the issues.

“Certain weaknesses were identified in HSBC’s processes which inhibited HSBC from proactively detecting potential money laundering and the financing of terrorism,” the PA said in a statement.

It added HSBC was not found to have facilitated any transactions involving money laundering or the financing of terrorism.

In a statement, the bank said it accepted the sanctions applied by the PA, which followed an inspection in 2016.

“We can confirm that the issues identified by SARB during the 2016 inspection have been fully remediated,” the statement said.

While small, the South African fine highlights that HSBC still faces problems with compliance long after pledging to toughen up its controls and after paying billions of dollars in fines for such failures.

It drew a line under one of its most serious cases - failing to prevent Mexican drug cartels from laundering hundreds of millions of dollars - last year, when the U.S. Department of Justice said it would end its deferred prosecution agreement over the matter, lifting the threat of further penalties.

Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru and Emma Rumney in London; Editing by Bernard Orr and Mark Potter

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