HSBC admitted it is breaching a US regulator’s order to bolster its defences against financial crime as the UK’s biggest bank announced a slump in first-half profits in “turbulent” markets. A $2.5bn (£1.8bn) share buyback – following the sale of its Brazilian business – buoyed its shares despite the 29% fall in first-half profits to $9.7bn. The bank’s shares were up 3% even as it indicated dividends would not rise as much as previously expected and scrapped its timetable to achieve a 10% return on equity – a closely watched measure of performance for shareholders – in 2017. A series of legal disclosures alongside its interim results confirmed it had received requests for information from various regulators around the world in relation to Mossack Fonseca, the Panama law firm linked to tax-haven companies and was continuing to be investigated for the tax avoidance activities of its Swiss arm.
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