HSBC to pay $100 mln to settle U.S. probe into currency rigging

(Reuters) - HSBC Holdings Plc on Thursday agreed to pay $101.5 million to settle a U.S. criminal probe into the rigging of currency transactions, which has already led the conviction of one of its former bankers.

A Swiss International aircraft flies past the HSBC headquarters building in the Canary Wharf financial district in east London February 15, 2015. HSBC apologised to customers and investors on Sunday for past practices at its Swiss private bank after allegations that it helped hundreds of clients to dodge taxes. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls (BRITAIN - Tags: BUSINESS CRIME LAW TRANSPORT TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)

The payment includes a $63.1 million fine plus $38.4 million in restitution to a corporate client, according to a deferred prosecution agreement filed on Thursday with the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, New York.

In the settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice, HSBC also agreed to bolster its internal controls, and admitted and accepted responsibility for wrongdoing underlying two criminal wire fraud charges filed on Thursday against the bank, according to the agreement.

Deferred prosecution agreements let companies avoid criminal charges so long as they comply with the terms.

Thursday’s sanctions came a month after HSBC was freed from a five-year deferred prosecution agreement over its alleged dealings with Mexican drug cartels and other money launderers, and conducting of transactions for customers in countries barred by U.S. sanctions. It was fined $1.92 billion in that case.

In October, a federal jury in Brooklyn convicted Mark Johnson, the former head of HSBC’s global foreign exchange cash trading desk, of trading ahead of a $3.5 billion currency transaction by his client Cairn Energy Plc.

Johnson has yet to be sentenced. Stuart Scott, HSBC’s former head of cash trading for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, was also charged in that case and has fought extradition.

HSBC agreed to pay Cairn $8.08 million under a settlement reached in July, which the Justice Department said it credited as “full restitution” to that company.

In a statement on Thursday, HSBC said the $63.1 million fine reflected a 15 percent reduction that took into account the bank’s cooperation and “extensive remediation” efforts.

The case is U.S. v. HSBC Holdings Plc, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York, No. 18-cr-00030.