The 233,000 worldwide employees of HSBC Holdings Plc were ordered on Monday (Sept. 21) to stay off the bank’s social media sites after a report was leaked to BuzzFeed News and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).
Bloomberg News reported that Tricia Weener, HSBC’s global head of marketing, sent a memo to the workforce of the London-based company stating that they must not post to social media until at least 11 a.m. United Kingdom time on Tuesday (Sept 22).
On Monday (Sept. 21), BuzzFeed revealed an underworld of corruption in the world’s banks, detailing how governments allow it to thrive. The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) uncovered government documents on how giant financial institutions (FIs) move trillions of dollars in suspicious transactions, padding their bottom lines, while terrorists, drug dealers and corrupt politicians are allowed to run free.
FinCEN, a division of the U.S. Department of the Treasury that analyzes financial transactions to combat money laundering, terrorist financing and other financial crimes across the globe, found that the U.S. government appears unable to stop the corruption.
HSBC is one of more than 100 financial institutions named in the leaked documents from FinCEN. Between 1999 and 2017, FinCEN flagged more than $2 trillion in suspicious transactions.
Among the scams highlighted included HSBC in Hong Kong, which allegedly allowed a $15 million Ponzi scheme to move its money even after the business was barred from operating in three states.
In another case, the news outlet reported that when investigators for HSBC in the U.S. asked the Hong Kong branch for the name of the person who owned Trade Leader, a company that had moved more than $500 million through the bank in less than two years, the answer they got was “none available.” That company reportedly emerged at the center of what has been called the Russian Laundromat.
In response, HSBC issued a statement: “Starting in 2012, HSBC embarked on a multi-year journey to overhaul its ability to combat financial crime across more than 60 jurisdictions,” the bank said in response to the stories by BuzzFeed News and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. “HSBC is a much safer institution than it was in 2012.”
A spokeswoman for HSBC in London declined to comment.