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HSBC Holdings Names Stuart Levey As Chief Legal Officer

Stuart Levey, once the top sanctions official in the Bush and Obama administrations, was named last week as the new chief legal officer for HSBC Holdings PLC.

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Stuart Levey, then the Treasury’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, answered reporters’ questions during a press briefing at the White House on June 16, 2010.

Levey, who was the architect of Washington’s sanctions program against Iran, left the Treasury in 2011, taking a position as an adjunct senior fellow at the Council of Foreign Relations. The position at HSBC will be based in London, and he’ll report to Stuart Gulliver, the chief executive, according to a statement.

He served from July 2004 through February 2011 at the Treasury Department, and is credited by leaders of both major political parties with revolutionizing the use of financial warfare after the Sept. 11, 2011, attacks. His strategy focused on using international companies’ need for access to the U.S. financial system as leverage to gain their cooperation, a method echoed by his successor, David Cohen.

Levey will initially work with General Counsel Richard Bennett, who will be retiring from the bank after 33 years.

Banks have been under pressure recently to ratchet up their internal controls governing money-laundering and sanctions compliance, due in part to the measures taken under Levey’s direction at the Treasury Department.

HSBC’s North American unit, for example, was ordered in October 2010 by U.S. authorities to beef up its risk management procedures after an investigation found them to be subpar. At the time, the agreements carried no fine but regulators said HSBC could still face civil penalties in the future.

Other banks such as JP Morgan Chase, Barclays PLC, Lloyds Banking Group PLC and Credit Suisse Group AG have paid multimillion-dollar fines in recent years to resolve sanctions issues with Treasury.

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    • A man with a vision and skills. A good negotiator. HSBC could not have made a better choice.

    • This is a very good move for HSBC.

    • HSBC better hope this guy is a magician.

About Corruption Currents

  • Corruption Currents, The Wall Street Journal’s corruption blog, digs into the ever-present and ever-changing world of corporate corruption. It is a source of news, analysis and commentary for those who earn a living by finding corruption or by avoiding it. Corruption Currents is written by Christopher. M. Matthews and Sam Rubenfeld and edited by Nick Elliott.

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