Freshfields, Sullivan, Cahill Gordon advise on record $1.9bn HSBC fine

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer has advised HSBC on its record $1.9bn (£1.2bn) fine in a settlement with the US Department of Justice for breaching US money laundering and sanctions laws.

The magic circle firm advised the bank on the UK law aspects of the settlement with a team led by global financial services head Michael Raffan and London corporate finance head Barry O’Brien.

The fine is the largest of its kind in such a case.

Freshfields was instructed on the case around three months ago. The firm’s team worked alongside US firms Cahill Gordon & Reindel and Sullivan & Cromwell, which advised on US law.

New York investigations partner David Kelley led the Cahill team, while the Sullivan team comprised criminal defence and investigations managing partner Sam Seymour and senior chairman Rodgin Cohen.

HSBC was handed the fine after the US Justice Department found the bank had permitted “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”.

The news comes after a string of bank fines in recent months, with Standard Chartered to pay $327m (£203m) to US regulators to settle allegations that it breached US sanctions with Iran.

Slaughter and May and Sullivan & Cromwell advised the bank, with corporate partner Nigel Boardman and dispute resolution partner Richard Swallow leading for the magic circle firm, while Cohen and Seymour headed up the US firm’s team alongside New York litigation partner Nicolas Bourtin.

The fine comes in addition to a $340m (£211m) penalty incurred by the bank from the New York State Department of Financial Services in August this year in relation to the same investigation, on which Slaughters and Sullivan also advised