UK BANKS HSBC and Standard Chartered have been linked to a serious corruption scandal in South Africa, with the Serious Fraud Office looking to investigate how deeply they are involved.
It comes after Peter Hain said the banks may ‘inadvertently have been conduits’ for laundered money. The Labour peer told the House of Lords that up to £400m of illicit funds ‘may have been moved by the banks’.
His concerns relate to links between South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma and a wealthy business family, the Guptas. The peer has written to Chancellor Philip Hammond, telling him a whistle-blower had indicated the banks ‘maybe inadvertently have been conduits for the corrupt proceeds of money’.
Hain said he named 27 people in the letter, in addition to companies, adding that any person or firm linked to alleged corruption in South Africa is ‘going to be badly contaminated’. The Treasury has referred Hain’s letter to regulators, including the Financial Conduct Authority, and the SFO.
A Treasury spokesman said: ‘We take allegations of financial misconduct very seriously, and have passed Lord Hain’s letter on to the Financial Conduct Authority and relevant UK law enforcement agencies, including the National Crime Agency and Serious Fraud Office, to agree the right action.’