ASNE and others urge court to release HSBC's monitor reports
ASNE and 25 other media companies and organizations filed an amicus brief with the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit that argues for access to court documents relating to the banking collapse, which occurred almost a decade ago, and the government's ongoing efforts to prevent its recurrence.
After HSBC bank was prosecuted for its failure to have proper standards in place to, among other things, prevent money laundering by drug cartels and other entities, it agreed to pay a $1.92 billion fine, which carried with it a "deferred prosecution agreement." That deferred prosecution agreement involved the use of a corporate compliance monitor to review HSBC's ongoing compliance activities. However, those reports are sealed from public view.
An individual citizen moved to intervene in the case for the purpose of unsealing those reports. He actually won before the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, but the case is now on appeal.
Our amicus brief asks the appeals court to affirm the district court's ruling that the reports be publicly available. We argue in favor of a broad right of presumptive access to judicial records, especially where the documents shed light on government records and possible misconduct. This case presents a clear public interest in access, given the record-breaking fine and the choice to engage in deferred prosecution in favor of ongoing compliance. The brief suggests that providing a redacted copy is a less restrictive and preferable option to sealing the documents.