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US authorities lift threat to prosecute HSBC

Deferred criminal charges have been hanging over the bank since it was fined for alleged money laundering five years ago

HSBC has avoided the threat of prosecution in the US over allegations that its lax controls allowed Mexican drug traffickers to launder cash through the bank.

The risk of a prosecution has been hanging over Britain’s biggest bank for the past five years after it was forced to pay $1.9bn (£1.4bn) to the US authorities to settle claims it allowed “narcotics traffickers and others to launder hundreds of millions of dollars through HSBC subsidiaries and to facilitate hundreds of millions more in transactions with sanctioned countries”.

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Source: The Guardian

Brexit: City of London will lose 10,500 jobs on day one, says EY

Dublin and Frankfurt are most likely to benefit from UK’s departure from EU, says accountancy firm

City firms plan to move 10,500 jobs out of the UK on “day one” of Brexit, with Dublin and Frankfurt the financial centres most likely to benefit from the UK’s departure from the EU.

The job tracker compiled by accountants EY, which counts job announcements to the end of November, found that the number of roles likely to be affected had fallen from estimates of 12,500 a year ago. But it also concluded that the jobs being affected by Brexit were not just the “back office” ones initially forecast, but “front office” staff who deal directly with clients.

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Source: The Guardian

Top of the flops: the year’s worst customer service errors

From unfinished homes to bank errors, which gaffes have made your blood boil? Consumer champion Anna Tims picks the prize failures

As you read this, some of your fellow Britons will be considering remortgaging to pay a utilities bill that demands a four-figure sum because their supplier confused imperial meter readings with metric. Except they won’t qualify for a loan because their credit rating has been wrecked by a phantom £5 default on a bank account they closed 10 years ago. And they will be unable to get the default rectified because the bank can’t get access to the account. And in any case, they have no phone to ring on since telecoms have yet to be installed on their year-old housing estate and their mobile service provider inadvertently gave their number to someone else.

It’s tempting to take the next flight out to escape the torment of corporate Britain, but before you book, be aware that paying for a ticket does not guarantee that you will be airborne. The pilot’s holiday rota might have been messed up, or a weird glitch in your travel agent’s computer might have printed your surname twice and invalidated your ticket or cancelled your booking without letting you know.

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Source: The Guardian

Amber Rudd announces new national economic crime centre for UK

The home secretary warned that billions have been laundered through the City of London as she announced a new anti-corruption strategy

Billions of pounds have been laundered through the City of London, despite Britain remaining one of the safest and cleanest places in the world to do business, the home secretary has said.

Amber Rudd issued the warning as she announced plans for a new national economic crime centre, with the power to task the Serious Fraud Office to investigate the worst cases of fraud, money laundering and corruption.

Related: Jeremy Corbyn to take aim at tax avoidance in speech at UN

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Source: The Guardian

Chancellor faces attempt by MPs to vote down budget

Labour objects to finance bill over tax cut to banks and Stella Creasy demands data on how measures affect women

Philip Hammond will face attempts to vote down his budget at the first hurdle on Monday on the grounds that tax cuts for big banks must be stopped and all policies should be subject to a gender audit to show how it affects women.

Labour will object to the finance bill at second reading mainly on the grounds that cuts to the bank levy costing £4.7bn should be reversed to finance children’s services.

Related: ‘Ladydata’ could help solve gender inequalities | Stella Creasy

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Source: The Guardian

Text alert: the ‘bank’ message that cost a student £5,400 of her loan money

Fraudsters have found a new way to target young people, with some losing all their funds in the first few weeks of term

When Alison Dean received a text from her bank, the Co-operative, asking whether she had just made a £999 purchase – asking her to call the bank if she hadn’t – she did what many of us would have done, and dialled the number in the message.

After all, the text had clearly come from the bank – it was listed on her handset amid previously sent texts that the PhD student knew had come from the Co-op – and she was well used to getting such messages from the bank.

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Source: The Guardian

Bitcoin ends dramatic week with 20% slump followed by recovery

Amid warnings of bubbles and infernos, currency hits new high of $16,660, crashes, then recovers to $15,350 as London closed

Bitcoin rounded off a week of frenzied investor speculation with a day of whipsaw trading that knocked nearly 20% off its value at one point, but still left the cryptocurrency changing hands at more than $15,000 (£11,000).

The currency, which was likened to Dante’s Inferno by one senior banker this week, rocketed to a new high of $16,660 overnight before slumping to $13,482 by midday on Friday. As the London markets were closing, bitcoin had recovered some of its losses to trade at $15,350 – having started the week at $10,875 and the year at $966.

Bitcoin is the first, and the biggest, “cryptocurrency” – a decentralised tradable digital asset. Whether it’s a bad investment is the $97bn question (literally, since that’s the current value of all bitcoins in existence). Bitcoin can only be used as a medium of exchange and in practice has been far more important for the dark economy than it has for most legitimate uses. The lack of any central authority makes bitcoin remarkably resilient to censorship, corruption – or regulation. That means it has attracted a range of backers, from libertarian monetarists who enjoy the idea of a currency with no inflation and no central bank, to drug dealers who like the fact that it’s hard (but not impossible) to trace a bitcoin transaction back to a physical person.

Related: Everything you wanted to know about bitcoin but were afraid to ask

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Source: The Guardian

RBS boss likens bitcoin to Dante’s Inferno as currency tops $15,000

Call from Sir Howard Davies to take action on digital currency follows warnings from other senior figures in finance

Bitcoin has been likened to Dante’s Inferno by the chairman of Royal Bank of Scotland. As the digital currency surged above $15,000 on Thursday, Sir Howard Davies suggested it should carry a similarly apocalyptic warning for investors.

Davies, a former head of the UK’s top financial watchdog, called on the Bank of England and other authorities around the world to launch a coordinated warning against the digital currency.

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Source: The Guardian

China's debt levels pose stability risk, says IMF

Health check of financial system says reforms have not gone far enough and notes similarities to US before 2008 crisis

Fears that China risks being the cause of a fresh global financial crisis have been highlighted by the International Monetary Fund in a hard-hitting warning about the growing debt-dependency of the world’s second biggest economy.

The IMF’s health check of China’s financial system found that credit was high by international levels, that personal debt had increased in the past five years, and that the pressure to maintain the country’s rapid growth had bred an unwillingness to let struggling firms fail.

Related: IMF warns China over ‘dangerous’ growth in debt

Related: Adani coalmine project: China Construction Bank won’t grant loan, PR firm says

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Source: The Guardian

Questions remain over the FCA inquiry into RBS | Nils Pratley

Did the financial watchdog opt not to publish a report into the bank’s handling of small firms because it feared being sued? We need an answer

A bad look for a regulator is to appear afraid of the people it is regulating. That is where the Financial Conduct Authority, fairly or not, now finds itself. It chose not to publish the high-profile report into Royal Bank of Scotland’s handling of 6,000 small and medium-sized businesses because it feared being sued.

The FCA had other reasons, but the legal worry is the one that will fuel the suspicion that the full horrors of what went on within RBS’ now-disbanded Global Restructuring Group (GRG) are being kept from public view.

Related: FCA investigates Provident Financial’s car finance firm Moneybarn

Related: Star Wars and Spectre power Cineworld to record box office figures

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Source: The Guardian