Sunday, April 12, 2015


HSBC in Hong Kong has reportedly refused to open an account for a well-established French charity whose goal is to support children in Cambodia, citing money laundering concerns. Is everyone in compliance at the bank now so gun-shy that they will not accept legitimate charitable business ?

Pour Un Sourire D'Enfant (For a Children's Smile) was formed 20 years ago, a Cambodian charity with a new Hong Kong branch, sought to open an account at HSBC. Guillaume Ponticelli, the charity's local president in Hong Kong, who has had personal accounts at HSBC for 15 years, has publicly questioned the validity of the bank's position.

From my compliance perspective, Cambodia is neither a high-risk jurisdiction, nor is it a known location for money laundering. How on earth can an account which merely sends funds to support children be declined, especially when the reasons cited have no basis in fact ? Perhaps HSBC should take a hard look at what's going on.

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