The US Federal Reserve is ordering HSBC Holdings PLC (HSBC) to pay a $175M fine, accusing the bank of engaging in practices that were “unsafe and unsound” in its foreign exchange trading business. According to the Fed, HSBC did not properly oversee chat rooms in which traders exchanged information about investment positions.
The authorities contend that the bank’s traders exchanged confidential information about client orders and coordinated trades to enhance profits. As part of the securities enforcement action, HSBC will have to improve its controls and compliance risk management as it pertains to FX Trading.
Ex-HSBC Forex Spot Trader Head Accused of Front Running
In a different case, Mark Johnson, the former head of HSBC’s foreign exchange cash trading desk, is on trial over allegations of “front-running” involving forex spot trading. He and co-conspirator Stuart Scott have been charged with wire fraud and conspiracy for allegedly defrauding Cairn Energy PLC in a multi-billion dollar transaction that occurred in 2011. Front-running involving forex markets usually refers to the making of a trade that is proprietary prior to a customer making a potentially market-moving trade in order to profit.