HSBC says $700 million U.S. provision "best estimate" for costs

LONDON Mon Jul 30, 2012 5:11am EDT

LONDON (Reuters) - HSBC said costs related to U.S. law enforcement issues could be "significantly higher" than a $700 million provision it took to cover them.

HSBC said in a statement the $700 million provision it had made was a "best estimate of the aggregate amount of fines and penalties that are likely to be imposed in connection with these matters."

Gulliver later told reporters on a call: "The number could be significantly higher ... it's entirely at the discretion of the Department of Justice".

A U.S. Senate report this month slammed HSBC for letting clients shift funds from dangerous and secretive countries.

(Reporting by Steve Slater; Editing by Sarah White)