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HSBC resolves case involving pre-recession U.S. claims

By Sheetal Sukhija, Mexico News
10 Oct 2018, 23:31 GMT+10

COLORADO, U.S. - Resolving allegations of misleading buyers about the quality of mortgage-based securities sold in the years preceding the 2008 financial crisis, the London-based lender, HSBC Holdings has finally put an end to a decade old scandal.

The U.S. housing market crash a decade ago was largely triggered by residential mortgage backed securities, while left investors fuming and sparked investigations over the mortgage meltdown.

Since the financial crisis in 2008, the U.S. Department of Justice has pursued its agenda of penalizing leaders for their conduct that caused the mortgage meltdown.

U.S. prosecutors alleged that the London-based bank misled buyers over the quality of the residential mortgage-back securities that it sold between 2005 and 2007.

During the period, HSBC handled about $24 billion of residential mortgage-backed securities and since the decade-old crisis, the bank has been tangled in legal cases over its handling of securities.

Prosecutors claim that HSBC misled investors about the process it used to evaluate the investments and alleged that the lender misrepresented the quality of the securities despite internal reviews raising concerns.

U.S. Attorney for the District of Colorado, Bob Troyer points out that the activities led to major losses by investors and contributed to a crisis of foreclosures that hit the U.S.

Troyer pointed out, "HSBC made choices that hurt people and abused their trust. If you make choices like this, beware. You will pay."

On Tuesday, nearing the end of the Justice Department decade-long investigations, federal prosecutors in Colorado announced that HSBC has reached a settlement over the claims.

Subsequently, HSBC announced in a statement that it had reached a $765 million settlement resolving the U.S. Department of Justice's allegations over its sale of mortgage-based securities during the run-up to the financial crisis.

HSBC also noted that it had since strengthened its internal controls and was "pleased" to have resolved the probe.

Patrick J Burke, who heads the bank's U.S. unit said in the statement,"The U.S. management team is focused on putting historical matters into the rear view mirror and completing the turn-around of HSBC's U.S. operations."

HSBC - which is among the last banks to finalize the mortgage-related settlements in investigations that were announced since 2008 - entered into the agreement without admitting liability or wrongdoing.

So far, the other banks that have resolved similar misconduct allegations, have shelled out billions in settlement.

HSBC's settlement amount was substantially lower than others, since the bank was not amongst the bigger players in the market at the time.

In August, Wells Fargo & Co. agreed to settle the case for $2 billion.

The same month, the Royal Bank of Scotland agreed to settle for $4.9 billion.

Before that, JPMorgan Chase & Co. paid $13 billion to resolve the case in 2013 - which is the second highest settlement amount.

However, the following year, Bank of America Corp. made the biggest settlement till day - paying $17 billion to resolve the case.

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