American politicians and financial regulators are becoming increasingly anti-British in an attempt to shift financial markets from London to New York, a member of the Commons Treasury committee has said.
John Mann, the Labour MP famed for his aggressive questioning of senior bankers, said on Tuesday that while there should be a parliamentary inquiry into accusations of money laundering by British banks, there needed to be a similar investigation into allegations made about American-based banks.
“I have no truck whatsoever with British banks profiteering from Iran and Burma, nor with US banks profiteering from drug and illegal arms money or the private accounts of world dictators," he said.
“The British Parliament should instigate an unbiased and far reaching investigation into money laundering in Britain, involving British banks and the endangering the well being of British interests and the British people.”
Mann's call for a parliamentary inquiry came after the London-based Standard Chartered was accused by the New York State Department of Financial Services of exposing the US to terrorists, drug kingpins and weapon dealers by hiding £161bn of transactions with the Iranian government.
The bank was branded a “rogue institution” that had left the US “vulnerable to terrorists, weapons dealers, drug kingpins and corrupt regimes”.
Last month HSBC bank was accused by a US Senate committee of money laundering for Mexican drug dealers and providing services to some lenders in Saudi Arabia and Bangladesh believed to have helped fund al Qaeda and other terrorist groups.
Mann said that the focus on the activities of British banks was part of a deliberate attempt to damage London as a financial centre.
The Bassetlaw MP, who was somewhat controversially not included on the parliamentary committee set up by David Cameron to investigate the Libor scandal, said "secret deals" had been made by US banks to shut down investigations into potential wrongdoing.
Mann claimed that drug money from Colombia and Mexico was being routinely laundered through US banks, but the US authorities are choosing to highlight British banks rather than their own wrong doings.