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Ex-HSBC broker, relationship manager barred for alleged false information about customer deposits

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FINRA has barred a former HSBC broker for allegedly lying about two deposits that a customer made into his bank accounts, a decision that it said prevented HSBC from looking into the customer’s potentially suspicious account activity.

Sebastian Jimenez, a private banker and relationship manager at HSBC Private Bank International, was assigned to the brokerage and bank accounts of a company that the customer partly owned and controlled, FINRA said in its recent settlement with the rep. The customer, a foreign national, and his accounts were subject to enhanced diligence, according to FINRA.
As part of an anti-money laundering review, Jimenez was asked to obtain information about a $100,000 deposit into the customer’s business bank account. When the customer declined to elaborate beyond explaining that the deposit involved lobbying fees, Jimenez allegedly directed the customer to call him on his personal cell phone. After that call, the customer claimed that the deposit represented legal fees related to the exploration of a business opportunity, which was not true, FINRA said.

Jimenez allegedly provided the customer’s second explanation to HSBC’s compliance department because he was concerned that his initial response would result in a hold on his business bank account.

FINRA also claimed that Jimenez helped the customer clean up his explanation for a separate $165,000 deposit into the account. Initially, the customer stated that the deposit was to purchase currency for a third party, but following his conversation with Jimenez, stated that it was for the sale of a vehicle, FINRA said.

He provided the customer’s second explanation for the deposit to once again avoid a hold on his account, the regulator alleged.

FINRA scolded Jimenez for providing explanations for the two deposits that he knew to be inaccurate, which it said assisted the customer in concealing the true source of the funds and prevented HSBC from monitoring his accounts and complying with its anti-money laundering responsibilities.

Neither Jimenez nor his attorney, Anthony Gonzalez of Florida law firm Gonzalez Law Offices, responded to a request for comment.

Jimenez agreed to the bar without admitting or denying FINRA’s findings.

Jimenez worked for HSBC in Miami from January 2007 to October 2016, when he was terminated for the alleged infractions, according to FINRA.

HSBC did not return an email seeking comment on the matter.

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