The resignation of a top HSBC banker in front of a US Senate subcommittee demonstrated the deep-rooted problems within the industry, Danny Alexander said today.
HSBC's head of compliance David Bagley dramatically quit yesterday when he appeared before the homeland security and governmental affairs subcommittee after it found the bank exposed the US to billions of dollars of money laundering, drug trafficking and terrorist financing.
Stepping down, Mr Bagley said: "Despite the best efforts and intentions of many dedicated professionals, HSBC has fallen short of our own expectations and the expectations of our regulators."
London-based Mr Bagley had a 20-year career with the bank and spent a decade in his most recent role.
Asked about the Senate subcommittee's report, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Mr Alexander said today: "This is a reminder of the huge difficulties our banking system got into in the run-up to the banking crisis, the culture that existed then that led to all sorts of appalling and irresponsible behaviour from which this country is still suffering under the weight of the consequences from those mistakes."
He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that Britain has some of the world's toughest rules to prevent money laundering, adding: "Anyone who even withholds information about suspected money laundering can face up to five years in jail."