HSBC has reported itself to Australia’s financial crime agency for possible breaches of anti-money laundering laws

A spokesman for HSBC said it had failed to report transfers to foreign banks and institutions, although he would not reveal a specific number of the potential breaches.

A spokesperson for the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) said the agency did not comment on specific investigations that were under way.

HSBC’s exposure to money laundering breaches — first revealed in the online newsletter Banking Day — are contained in the bank’s 2019 financial accounts that were published in March 2020.

The bank said it had put in place anti-money laundering measures to improve its record keeping and reporting of cross-border transactions. But HSBC now faces the massive task of identifying every specific transaction potentially unreported to AUSTRAC and taking corrective action.

Banks in breach of anti-money laundering regulations in Australia face fines of up to $21m (£10.3m) for each individual offence.