The rumbling scandal about alleged corruption and bribery in South Africa involving the country’s president Jacob Zuma and the powerful Gupta family has embroiled British banks Standard Chartered and HSBC.
While Zuma, pictured left, and the Gupta family deny allegations of wrongdoing, the case has already caused the collapse of the British PR firm Bell Pottinger, founded by Tim Bell (Lord Bell), who advised former UK prime minister the late Margaret Thatcher on media relations.
The suggestion is that the banks acted as conduits for moving large sums of money out of South Africa against money-laundering regulations.
There is no suggestion that either bank knowingly acted unlawfully.
The Chancellor Philip Hammond has referred the matter for investigation to the Serious Fraud Office (SFO), the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the National Crime Agency (NCA).
This was prompted after the South Africa-born Labour peer Lord Hain wrote to the Chancellor to express his concerns that the two banks may “inadvertently have been conduits” for money laundering in the jursidiction.
An FCA spokesperson confirmed that it had been approached, saying: “The FCA is already in contact with both banks named and will consider carefully further responses received.”