HSBC hires ex-boss of spy agency MI5 to beef up security

Rattled by money-laundering charges in both the US and the UK, banking conglomerate HSBC has hired Sir Jonathan Evans, the former director general of Britain's internal intelligence agency MI5 to help beef up its protection against cyber criminals.

HSBC chairman Douglas Flint said the ex-MI5 boss's knowledge and expertise would help combat data security threats.

Evans joins the bank's board as a non-executive director and will also be part of its financial system vulnerabilities committee. He will receive a total remuneration of around £125,000 a year.

The 55-year-old's appointment comes six months after HSBC was fined $1.9 billion by US authorities on allegations of money laundering and breaches of sanctions relating to operations in Mexico.

A week ago, shareholders at HSBC's annual general meeting in London hauled the group's board over the coals with a range of accusations, from financing Mexican drug cartels to supporting tax havens, slashing jobs and miss-selling products.

HSBC's Glasgow-born chairman Flint said, "Sir Jonathan's experience and expertise gained from a career at the highest level of public service combating threats to data security, critical infrastructure and from international terrorism and organised crime will be of considerable value to the board as it addresses its governance of systemic threats."

Sir Jonathan joined the security services in 1980 and spent 33 years working across a number of areas, including domestic and international terrorism.

The Bristol University graduate was appointed to succeed Eliza Manningham-Buller as director general of MI5 in April 2007.

In the New Year Honours list he was named Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath and in April it was announced he was stepping down from his role at MI5.

He has in the past talked publicly about the threat the UK faces from digital espionage.

Sir Jonathan joins a number of other heavy hitters on the financial system vulnerabilities committee, which HSBC convened to improve its defences against financial crimes.

Those already on the committee include Bill Hughes, previously head of the UK's Serious Organised Crime Agency, former HM Revenue and Customs boss Dave Hartnett, ex-Financial Times chief executive Rona Fairhead and former US deputy attorney general James Comey.

It was set up in January this year with its brief, including "governance, oversight and policy guidance" on areas such as anti-money laundering systems, preventing terrorist financing and making sure the bank has no association with illegal drugs activities.

Sir Jonathan, 55, will take up his post in August and will sit for an initial three-year term subject to re-election by shareholders. He will receive a £95,000 fee for being a non-executive director and an additional £30,000 for being a member of the vulnerabilities committee.