The Senate Judiciary Committee has delayed a vote on the nomination of Loretta Lynch to become U.S. attorney general amid questions about how she handled the money laundering prosecution of British banking giant HSBC in 2012.
The delay comes after revelations that the Swiss arm of the bank may have helped individuals and companies worldwide hide their money from tax authorities.
Sen. David Vitter, R-La., was among the senators who asked that the committee vote on Lynch’s nomination be delayed at least two weeks while lawmakers ask her additional questions. Vitter said he was concerned about the 2012 HSBC settlement.
“The investigation found that HSBC had violated many anti-money laundering statutes,” Vitter said during today’s committee meeting. “The settlement was a fine — a significant fine, but a fine. No criminal action, nothing more serious.”
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, a project of the Center for Public Integrity, released information this week on thousands of accounts held at HSBC’s Swiss subsidiary until 2007. The files include details of more than 8,600 accounts tied to U.S. citizens that were worth more than $13 billion.
The revelations have raised questions as to why the Justice Department did not charge the bank with any tax-related infractions and has also drawn additional scrutiny to the 2012 settlement spearheaded by Lynch, who was U.S. attorney in Brooklyn.
“It’s very reasonable and incumbent on us, in fact, to get the details of this settlement,” Vitter said. “I’m certainly working on that.”