HSBC closes accounts in sanction-hit ME states
Dubai, February 8, 2013
HSBC will close the accounts of some customers in the Middle East and North Africa with links to sanction-targeted nations such as Iran and Syria, the bank said, as it looks to cut the heavy compliance costs associated with them.
HSBC was fined $1.9 billion in December - the largest such punishment ever imposed on a bank - after a scathing report by US lawmakers accused the bank of lax controls relating to cash coming from Mexican drug cartels and countries under US sanctions including Iran and Syria.
The lender confirmed it would be closing accounts belonging to some customers in the Mena region with citizenship, residency or business links to nations affected by sanctions applied by the United States, the European Union, or both.
The list of countries included Iran and Syria, as well as other nations around the world. While declining to provide further specifics, a spokeswoman said the list did not include any country in which HSBC operates a branch network.
However, the change would only affect those who were not advance or premier class customers. Those accounts require a minimum monthly salary of Dh15,000 ($4,100) or the maintaining of Dh100,000 in the account at all times.
HSBC said in a statement the action was due to the need for "enhanced oversight on any customer with connections to sanctioned countries."
"Where we are unable to maintain sufficiently detailed information about such a customer through a relationship managed account, we are having to discontinue that relationship," it added.
One regional banking analyst said the cost of making additional checks on customers was difficult to justify if they did not provide much revenue to the bank.
"HSBC's strategy in the Middle East has always been to target the bigger clients who come with other cross-selling opportunities, so it makes sense and also reduces costs," the analyst said on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the subject.
HSBC did not say how many people were affected by the decision. It said the bank had given the customers 30 days' notice before the accounts are closed.-Reuters
More Finance & Capital Market Stories
- Insurance House posts second year of profit
- ETF global assets hit record $2.44 trillion
- Bahrain firms plan IPOs
- Serbia wins $1bn Abu Dhabi loan
- Key equity banker resigns from Saudi Fransi
- DMCC to boost Islamic commodity trade with tie-ups
- IDB, KIA units to invest in Morocco
- First Gulf to set up $1bn sukuk in Malaysia
- Singapore’s UOB Bullion and Futures joins DGCX
- Infrastructure investment ‘key to growth’
- BKIC declares 30pc dividend
- StanChart profit falls 16pc in 2013
- Veteran Saudi banker to head AMF
- Dubai World prepays $284m to creditors
- EFG-Hermes sells Damas stake to Mannai
- Ultra rich number to grow 35pc in Mideast
- Saudi IPO market 'set for big year'
- RAK 'exploring' ceramics unit stake sale
- Bahrain Bourse wins key UK award
- Alba backs Euromoney forum
- URC bond rating upgraded to stable outlook
- GCC urged to set up onshore financial centres
- Consolidation push paying off for Bahrain banks
- Mubadala to focus more on US, Europe
- Six banks join plan for shared customer data register
- UAE economy grows 4pc in 2013
- Egypt foreign reserves up to $17.3bn
- StanChart opens second branch in Iraq
- Oil below $90 to hit GCC economies
- Payfort offers zero deposit scheme to SMEs