International in social media blackout amidst of illicit activity

HSBC in social media blackout amidst leaked reports of illicit activity

Bank says it has been overhauling its ability to combat financial crime, much safer institution now




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London — Holdings has advised its staff to refrain from posting anything on the corporation’s social media accounts amidst ongoing controversy after leaked documents were released about the bank’s alleged involvement in the transferring of illicit funds.

In a report published by, the head of marketing for HSBC’s global commercial and investment banking arms, Ms Tricia Weener, released a memo on Monday (Sept 21), sharing that the London-based bank would not post anything until 11 am British time on Tuesday, which is 6 pm Singapore time the same day.

Ms Weener said: “Given the current news coverage, a decision has been taken to pause all HSBC proactive social media posts with immediate effect (except for customer responses in banking services) to avoid negative reactions and comments across our channels and content.”

The leaked documents, known as suspicious activity reports (SARs), were filed by a number of banks and other financial firms with the United States Department of Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network ().

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The SARs, which were reportedly more than 2,100 in total, were eventually acquired by BuzzFeed News and shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), as well as a number of other media organisations.

Reports also explained that major banks, including HSBC, Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan, Standard Chartered and Bank of New York Mellon, were featured most in the ICIJ accounts. They alleged that these five banks, along with 85 others, moved more than US$2 trillion (S$2.7 trillion) in illicit funds over the course of around 18 years from 1999 to 2017.

This reportedly accounted for HSBC’s shares to fall 2.7 per cent to HK$28.50 at 10.45 am  local time in Hong Kong on Tuesday. This was after they lost 5.3 per cent on Monday, the lowest this global bank’s shares have been since 1995.

In the case of HSBC, reports claimed that the banking corporation processed millions of dollars in a Chinese Ponzi scheme which left a number of victims incapable of retrieving their losses.

In response to the stories released by ICIJ and BuzzFeed News, the bank said: “Starting in 2012, HSBC embarked on a multi-year journey to overhaul its ability to combat financial crime across more than 60 jurisdictions. HSBC is a much safer institution than it was in 2012.”

It is through HSBC’s dozens of social media accounts from all over the world that they share information about their services with their customers. Back in June, one of the senior Asia-based executives had shared via WeChat that they signed a petition for a new national security law for Hong Kong, a decision that brought on criticism from a number of Western politicians apparently.

The report also said that HSBC’s spokesperson has declined to comment on the matter. /TISG

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