Economy

HSBC and Standard Chartered investigated over Gupta links

The Financial Times reported that Peter Hain had raised concerns with Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond about evidence from whistle-blowers and other sources.

According to letters seen by the Guardian, Lord Hain wrote to Hammond last month after whistleblowers told him that hundreds of millions of pounds had been illicitly moved out of South Africa via Hong Kong and Dubai, and that United Kingdom banks may have been compromised, since they have strong presences in those financial centres. The brothers are being investigated in South Africa over their close links to President Zuma.

Responding to Hain's letter, the chancellor said he had referred his concerns to the SFO, FCA and NCA and had also asked his officials to discuss the matter with the UK High Commission in South Africa.

Lord Hain, who is an influential former United Kingdom politician, says the crisis is precipitated by a "vast criminal network" facilitated by the Guptas and the Zuma family.

Ajay, Atul and Rajesh Gupta are Indian-born entrepreneurs at the centre of a corruption investigation in South Africa.

Earlier this year, British PR firm Bell Pottinger collapsed after becoming embroiled in the scandal, after it was ejected from the UK PR industry body for allegedly helping stir up racial hatred on behalf of the Guptas.

Lord Hain, a leading anti-apartheid campaigner who grew up in South Africa, urged United Kingdom authorities "to track that stolen money down and make sure that British financial institutions help return it to South African taxpayers".

Treasury minister Lord Bates said the United Kingdom was committed to tackling corruption in the United Kingdom and overseas with strict rules on money laundering introduced recently which British banks must follow.

An FCA spokesperson confirmed that it had been approached, saying: "The FCA is already in contact with both banks named and will consider carefully further responses received".



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