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Lord Green Denies Role In HSBC Scandal

(c) Sky News 2012

Trade minster Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint has told Sky News he has "no case to answer" over the money-laundering scandal which hit HSBC (LSE: HSBA.L - news) during his time as the bank's chairman.

In an interview with our City Editor Mark Kleinman, he said he had no plans to resign his role in Government in the wake of a US Senate Committee inquiry, which concluded that inadequate checks between 2006 and 2009 allowed drug cartels and even terrorists to allegedly launder money through the bank.

More than £9bn in transactions, mainly from Mexico and Russia, were scrutinised and analysts believe the investigation could ultimately land the bank with a fine of more than £600m.

Lord Green, who was chief executive of the bank from 2003 to 2006 and then chairman until 2010, said the US inquiry found he had "acted appropriately" but did acknowledge that he was accountable for what happened during his period at the helm.

He said: "As and when issues were drawn to our attention, as we were seeking to grapple with the issues, we took action."

He continued: "I think we must acknowledge there were some failures of implementation. HSBC has expressed its regret for that. I share that regret."

The peer, who has come under pressure from the Labour party to explain his conduct, insisted he was "proud" to have worked for HSBC despite the "failures" identified by the inquiry.

Lord Green also confirmed he had given his HSBC bonuses to charity and moved to stamp on speculation he was a possible successor to Sir Mervyn King as Governor of the Bank of England saying he had "no interest in any other public service job" other than the one he was doing currently.

Lord Green also defended his tenure as chairman of the British Bankers' Association (BBA) - the body which sets the inter-bank lending rate, Libor.

While he was in charge at the time of the rate's manipulation, which has seen Barclays (LSE: BARC.L - news) become the only bank to date to face a fine, he thought the BBA acted appropriately at the time and he believed the time was now right for a "public debate" on how the rate should be set in future.

In a separate development it emerged that the peer had written to shadow Treasury minister Chris Leslie in an attempt to address Labour's concerns.

Mr Leslie said: "It is right that Lord Green has now expressed regret for the failures of HSBC to prevent money laundering during his time as chief executive and chairman.

"But his letter totally fails to address the detailed questions about what he knew and when about these very serious issues.

"As a British Minister, an adviser to George Osborne on banking and a member of the Cabinet committee on banking reform, he is accountable first and foremost to Parliament.

"He cannot and should not hide behind 'continuing discussions between HSBC and the US authorities' as a reason for failing to answer questions."

Mr Leslie concluded: "The House of Lords remains in session. He must now come to Parliament and explain what he knew, when he knew it and what action he took."

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