HSBC to cut money-laundering unit in Buffalo

May 25, 2012 Updated May 25, 2012 at 6:18 AM EDT

By WKBW News
By Business First by Allissa Kline

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May 25, 2012 Updated May 25, 2012 at 6:18 AM EDT

Officials at HSBC Bank USA N.A. confirmed Thursday that 77 employees in Western New York will lose their jobs this fall.

The entire U.S. anti-money laundering monitoring team in Buffalo will be laid off between Sept. 18 and Oct. 18. The bank notified the state Labor Department May 23 of the planned job eliminations.

The cuts are part of the bank's efforts to expand and centralize existing monitoring teams in New York City and New Castle, Del., spokesperson Robert Sherman said. Affected employees, all of whom work at One HSBC Center in downtown Buffalo, were notified this week.

"This is part of the transition of (anti-money laundering) monitoring in Buffalo," Sherman said. "We're concentrating that function in Delaware and New York City as part of our plans to expand the monitoring team and centralize and concentrate our expertise."

The announcement comes less than a week after HSBC sold more than 100 retail branches to First Niagara Financial Group Inc. It is in the midst of selling its entire 195-branch network in Upstate New York and Connecticut in response to its parent company's global restructuring efforts.

Employees who are losing their jobs will be given priority eligibility for other positions at HSBC, Sherman said. That includes Buffalo.

"We do continue to hire in Buffalo in general, according to business needs," he said.

Sherman declined to comment on future potential layoffs at the bank's Buffalo operations.

Officials have said in recent months that HSBC will maintain its commercial banking business at the HSBC Atrium, even as it retreats from the retail side of banking. But there has been no word about whether it will maintain its position as anchor tenant at One HSBC Center, the tower at the foot of Main Street. The company's lease expires in the fall of 2013.

Earlier this month, the bank announced plans to shift, but not sell, its mortgage processing and service operations to PHH Mortgage Corp. of Mount Laurel, N.J. An estimated 200 local mortgage employees could be out of work by early next year.

It also recently wrapped the sale of its credit card division to Capital One Financial Corp. That deal will result in the elimination of 80 local jobs by the end of the year.

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