Note: copies of all tweets referred to in this note are kept at the end of the blog post for posterity - just in case they are removed by the original tweeters.
Investment Bridge is a London operation selling structured financial products. I suspect some of those are structured by HSBC for reasons you will see.
Investment Bridge tweeted a link to an FT story about reforms at HSBC after a wave of money laundering scandals.
Here is the tweet:
Very comprehensive article re HSBC and it’s current position, following an era of scandals: https://t.co/viXJK3Nzic via @financialtimes— Investment Bridge (@InvestBridge) February 18, 2018
I replied that HSBC should start by fixing in Guangzhou branch. To quote:
HSBC could start by fixing compliance in Guangzhou.— John_Hempton (@John_Hempton) February 18, 2018
As recently as 18 months ago the branch in Guangzhou was a money-laundering facilitation machine. An informal chat with their compliance staff was MontyPythonesque.
Now Investment Bridge took offence - they asked me - oh so politely - to remove my reply.
Would you mind deleting your reply to my tweet please. Your comments aren’t the type I would like to associate with or have linked to my twitter account. Make the comment independently if you so wish - or through appropriate channels. Thank you.— Investment Bridge (@InvestBridge) February 21, 2018
I think the answer to that is just one word: no.
There is an error in this though - which is that my discussion with HSBC compliance in Guangzhou was in Q1 2015 which was more than 18 months ago.
Compliance consisted of sending money to Cayman accounts of BVI entities without identifying the people behind the entity provided this was consistent with the dictates of relevant party officials.
I was trying to get the HSBC officials to talk about how they physically check - and the response indicated that the only thing they did was politically check. Politically checking was the only check that mattered.
This was China after all. And their local loyalty must be to the local Government.
This was after money laundering problems were well known to many - including presumably the Chinese customers. But if you want to be a bank in China you need to play by the local rules even if they are not rules acceptable outside China.
Forgive my cynicism re HSBC.
But can someone please explain why a small London shop is so concerned about the sanctity of their twitter feed?
PS. I only recently realised that the Mexican money laundering of HSBC was done via the Guangzhou branch. My conversation was six months before the relevant court documents were unsealed (as per this article) but well after HSBC management should have been aware of the problem. I knew of the problem which is why it struck me strange that they were so utterly unreformed in what I thought was the periphery. Guangzhou branch was in fact the epicentre of the problem.