HSBC is being investigated by the British Serious Fraud Office and other agencies for its ‘complicit role’ in an alleged money laundering network operated by wealthy connections of South African President Jacob Zuma.

The alleged role of the bank is also being examined by the National Crime Agency and Financial Conduct Authority after Lord Peter Hain raised the issue of the role of British banks in the scandal which has shaken the South African units of global brands such as Bell Pottinger and KPMG.

Last week Lord Hain outlined the problems being faced in South Africa and mentioned the role of British banks.

HSBC is now being investigated alongside the Bank of Baroda.

HSBC’s chief executive, Stuart Gulliver reportedly said that his organisation was responding to inquiries from the FCA and also from South African authorities.

Lord Hain indicated another British bank, which he did not name, is also being looked into.

On Wednesday he told the House of Lords that on Tuesday night he had personally approached Chancellor Phil Hammond with printouts of transactions of the unammed British bank concerned.

“This information shows illegal transfers of funds from South Africa made by the Gupta family over the last few years from their South African accounts to accounts held in Dubai and Hong Kong,” he said, “the last columns of each sheet, now in the Treasury, show the relevant banks involved, and the records show all account numbers used. Many of the transactions are legitimate, but many certainly are not.”

“The latter illicit transactions were flagged internally in the bank concerned as suspicious, but I am reliably informed that it was told by the UK headquarters to ignore it.”

The South African scandal of corrupt money and abuse of power focus around the Gupta family, who are closely associated to Zuma, and their influence on state entities, amid other issues.

The Guptas have denied the allegations.

Irene Madongo

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