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Is HSBC Bank PLC and HSBC Holdings PLC doing business in Iran in possible violation of sanctions? Iraq is also under U.S. sanctions but it doesn't stop HSBC Bank. In fact HSBC was arrogant enough to ask for changes in the United States Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act just so they could collect more interest on accounts held by servicemen and women. It turned out HSBC wants our troops to be in harms way inside a combat zone before they (HSBC) will drop their interest rate to six percent, if they get their way. We hope they don't.

HSBC is also in Iran. In the past HSBC was the focus of possible money laundering. While it flies in the face of intelligent thought on the matter, HSBC is heavily invested in the Middle East, even while they spit in the face of U.S. troops that make it easier for them. While stabbing troops in the back with one hand HSBC rushed back into Iraq and signed contracts with the other hand. We characterize it as arrogant and self-serving.

Having practiced well and given lessons by Household International - one of the largest predatory lenders in the United States and now owned by HSBC - regulators and other authorities were not pleased when HSBC stonewalled during money laundering investigations. All the while HSBC said they were bound by other laws from other countries, thus they could not provide information requested. Of course that's how money is laundered to begin with, usually with help from a party who wishes a certain degree of secrecy.

While the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency remains confused by complaints filed in the United States by United States consumers, perhaps HSBC has again drawn the attention of other law enforcement agencies. Expect more international stonewalling from HSBC.

Some of the world's largest finance and energy companies are severing ties with Iran, amid U.S. probes into their compliance with American sanctions and as the possibility of U.N. action grows closer.

Banks UBS AG of Switzerland and ABN Amro Holding NV of the Netherlands disclosed in recent weeks that they have broken off work with Iran, following the lead of Houston energy-services company Halliburton Co. a year ago. All three are subjects of U.S. Justice Department inquiries into whether they violated sanctions laws, lawyers and others familiar with the inquiries say. Also under investigation but still doing business with Iran are HSBC Holdings PLC, Standard Chartered PLC and BNP Paribas, those people say.

Also pulling out of Iranian business in recent months, though not being investigated regarding compliance with sanctions, are Swiss bank Credit Suisse Group, energy firms Baker Hughes Inc., ConocoPhillips of Houston and BP PLC of London, Chicago insurance broker AON Corp. and industrial conglomerate General Electric Co. of Fairfield, Conn.

The only bank publicly identified as a subject of the Justice Department probe is ABN Amro, which last month acknowledged improper transactions with Iran through its branch in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and agreed to $80 million in fines for the violations and other lapses. But people familiar with the inquiry say it also involves other European banks that operate in the region and have recently had problems with U.S. regulators: UBS of Switzerland, HSBC and Standard Chartered of the United Kingdom and BNP Paribas of France. The four banks have previously come under investigation by U.S. bank regulators for possible money-laundering compliance lapses.

The Justice Department sanctions-compliance inquiry grew out of those cases, according to people close to the banks involved, and some of those banks that were being examined by regulators now also face Justice Department scrutiny.

European businesses have been retreating particularly since Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's statements last fall questioning whether the Holocaust occurred and calling for the destruction of Israel. "That hurt them in Europe incredibly," said sanctions expert Mike Beck, a researcher at the University of Georgia. "There are real financial and economic consequences for those kinds of actions, and this illustrates that."

One fact is clear to U.S. consumers, especially to those evicted by Household International, scammed in HSBC's Shea v Household, strangled by binding arbitration and exempted from including HSBC accounts in bankruptcy. The fact is HSBC itself would probably deny the Holocaust occurred if they could make more profit in Iran or Iraq. All the while they still want our Soldiers and Sailors Act changed to their benefit, while courting the rest of the American public as they try to open more branches across America.

Another incentive for firms to get out is coming from the U.S. Justice Department. Federal prosecutors have several wide-ranging sanctions inquiries under way, according to lawyers, executives and legal and securities filings, involving compliance with U.S. sanctions against Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan and Cuba.

They are investigating whether European banks that do heavy business in the Middle East and have branches in New York complied with U.S. sanctions on Iran and other countries, as well as with U.S. government prohibitions on specific individuals and companies designated by the Treasury Department as involved in terrorism or other illegal activity, people familiar with the matter said. The Justice Department declined to comment. Foreign banks can run afoul of U.S. sanctions laws if they use their U.S. offices or American employees to carry out transactions involving companies from Iran or other prohibited states, though there are technical exceptions.

Treasury is in charge of civil enforcement of such violations and refers possible criminal violations to the Justice Department.

This is just one of our articles referencing HSBC complaints about mortgages, Bestbuy, credit cards, auto loans, fees, and late payment processing.

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Notes

 

HSBC Watch monitors HSBC customer trends for possible violations of Regulation Z and other possible illegal actions. We use your individual HSBC complaints and merchant complaint reports to perform trend analysis. We are not associated with HSBC, Household International, or their merchants. Some items are used by permission granted in the Fair Use guidelines of the 1976 U.S. Copyright Act. HSBC Watch was formerly known as Household Watch and hosted at www.householdwatch.com and is now part of the Lender Watch network

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