‘Rotten Culture’ permeates HSBC Foreign Exchange Office, High Court lawsuit says

A ‘rotten culture’ permeated HSBC’s foreign exchange trading desk between 2004 and 2006, with bankers misusing confidential information to ‘execute’ client orders, the High Court was told on Monday. from the United Kingdom.

The allegations were made at the start of a seven-week lawsuit in which currency manager ECU Group accused HSBC of fraud and misconduct in relation to 52 foreign exchange transactions it made with the bank during that period. HSBC denies the allegations on several grounds.

The case threatens to reopen old wounds in the $ 6.6 billion a day foreign exchange market, which was rocked by allegations in 2013 that a number of global banks had systematically manipulated currency prices for decades. years. HSBC paid $ 343 million in fines and damages to the Financial Conduct Authority and $ 276.5 million to the US Federal Reserve for breaches of its oversight of currency trading between 2008 and 2013.

ECU, who was an HSBC customer, alleges misconduct by HSBC traders in connection with the lawsuit, including front-running trades using confidential knowledge of an upcoming customer order. He also alleges that HBPB, HSBC’s private bank, engaged in a “pip theft” by adding secret “pips” or mark-ups to the execution prices declared to the ecu in order to secure a profit. illegal.

ECU first complained to HSBC about unusual movements in currency prices in February 2006, but was told, after an internal HSBC investigation, that there was no evidence of wrongdoing.

The ECU resumed reviewing transactions after 2016, when the US Department of Justice issued a formal indictment against two former HSBC FX traders over an alleged front-end position at the expense of another HSBC client – Cairn Energy.

ECU lawyer Richard Lissack QC told the High Court on Monday that the lawsuit concerned a “shameful episode” in HSBC history.

“The case with ECU is that the HSBC bureau de change between 2004 and 2006 was rotten. Traders treated client orders as an opportunity for personal enrichment, ”said Lissack.

In his written arguments, Lissack claimed that HSBC traders viewed ECU trading as an “easy target”.

HSBC is due to open its case on Tuesday. In its written submissions, the bank said that ECU’s “incredibly outdated allegations are all time-barred” because the alleged events took place over 15 years ago and it described the ECU lawsuit as a “farrago of artificial and legally inconsistent claims “.

“ECU is now engaged in a cynical and opportunistic attempt to resuscitate these outdated claims, which it could and should have pursued, if at all, in 2006,” she asserts.

“The relevant orders were not being issued and, with the exception of a few isolated incidents, the HSBC parties did not commit the wrongdoing alleged by ECU,” he said in the written arguments, adding that he denied that there was any fraud or willful cover-up in the matter. The case continues.

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