Britain’s HSBC About to Collapse?

It was reported recently that Britain’s largest bank — HSBC had started to impose restrictions on “large” cash withdrawals.

Some HSBC customers are now prevented from withdrawing “large” amounts of cash, with the bank demanding they “provide evidence of why they want it” (HSBC: “Why do you want your money?” “Your money is ours. We know how much you want. You can’t have that much. We can’t tell you how much you can have”).

HSBC claims that they ask their customers about the purpose of “large” cash withdrawals and demand evidence solely when such withdrawals are “unusual” and are “out of keeping with the normal running of their account”.

While HSBC officials appear at pains to cast this latest scandal to hit British banks in terms of “best practice” and “looking after customers’ best interests”, it all looks suspiciously like the bank has a liquidity problem and is unable to pay customers their money back in the normal course of their account activity.

One theory is that HSBC suffered huge losses in some of its international operations when it was hit by recent market developments involving, among other things, currencies of certain emerging economies, which slumped, as well as other vulnerable small currencies, such as the British pound. If true, one can only guess at the kind of transactions HSBC got themselves involved in. Same old same old — bankers never learn. Ever.

I recall similar restrictions imposed by Northern Rock in 2008. And we know how that went, don’t we.

Also, HSBC is hardly a trustworthy institution in any case, even as far as banks go.

Here’s what Mr. Yanko Phobe’s file says about HSBC:

HSBC Holdings P.L.C. is a British multinational banking and financial services institution originally founded in Hong Kong but now headquartered in London, England, United Kingdom, and is Britain’s largest bank and one of the world’s largest banks. It is also reportedly affiliated with a number of British mafia families who apparently used it since inception in 1991 until very recently to launder proceeds of organized crime, especially, illicit drug trafficking and supply. In December 2012 it was severely punished by the U.S. authorities and made to pay a huge fine for facilitating vast money-laundering operations, including washing money from Mexican drug cartels, on behalf of British mafia families. Lord Green, who was chief executive of HSBC during the years it was turning over hundreds of millions of pounds of dirty money, is a current trade minister and member of the Treasury team deciding how to reform Britain’s banks.

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