Hong Kong | HSBC action hit its lowest level in 25 years on Monday amid reports suggesting that the bank could face sanctions from Beijing, and accusations that it allowed the transit of astronomical amounts of dirty money.
The banking giant's stock fell more than 4% at the start of the session to fall to HKD 29.60, a low since 1995, as investors questioned its ability to continue operations in China and Hong Kong, two of its key markets.
The English-speaking Chinese nationalist daily “Global Times” reports that the group could be one of the first to be placed on a “list of untrusted entities” by Beijing, as part of retaliatory measures against certain foreign countries, at the top of which the United States.
The article calls into question in particular the role of HSBC in the investigation carried out by Washington on Huawei, and the arrest in Canada, at the request of the United States, of the financial director of the Chinese giant Meng Wanzhou.
HSBC's inclusion on such a list could involve penalties ranging from fines to restriction of activities or entry of equipment and personnel into China.
“If the company is classified as unreliable by China, which seems safe considering this is a 'Global Times' article, the bank is going to face difficulties with its business in China,” Bloomberg told Bloomberg News Banny Lam, expert at CEB International Investment Corp.
“They may have difficulty growing their business in mainland China, despite having invested so much there in recent years.”
Another disappointment for the group founded in the nineteenth century in Hong Kong, then a British colony, it was cited on Sunday by an investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) among several banking giants who would have allowed criminals for years to '' use their accounts for dirty money transfers.
“Profits from the murderous drug wars, the embezzled fortunes of developing countries and the hard-earned economies stolen as part of a Ponzi scheme have all been able to come in and out of these financial institutions, despite warnings from their own employees. banks ”, details the investigation, carried out by 108 international media, from 88 countries.
The investigation is based on thousands of “suspicious activity reports” (SARs) made to the US Treasury's financial police, FinCen, by banks around the world.
The ICIJ, which denounces the weaknesses of the regulation of the sector, affirmed that the bank had “continued to make profits thanks to powerful and dangerous actors” for the last two decades.
HSBC defended itself by telling reporters it had always complied with its legal obligations on reporting suspicious activity.
Another bank listed in Hong Kong and pinned by the ICIJ, Standard Chartered also saw its price drop by almost 4% on Monday.