Peter Hain, a former cabinet minister and member of the House of Lords, confirmed on Thursday that he had written to Mr. Hammond last month about allegations by a whistleblower that HSBC and Standard Chartered may have inadvertently served as conduits for corrupt proceeds. "It should not be restricted to South Africa", he told reporters.
Responding to Hain's letter, the chancellor said he had referred his concerns to the SFO, FCA and NCA and had also asked his officials to discuss the matter with the UK High Commission in South Africa.
The scandal so far has ensnared global firms including KPMG worldwide, SAP SE and McKinsey & Co., and led to the collapse of the United Kingdom arm of public relations firm Bell Pottinger over its work for a Gupta holding company.
Local media have reported extensively on the so-called "Gupta-leaks" - thousands of emails between the Guptas and their lieutenants and state-owned companies, politically connected individuals and private sector firms.
Standard Chartered said it was not able to comment on the details of client transactions, "but can confirm that after an internal investigation, accounts were closed by us by early 2014".
Explaining his reasons for asking for probes of HSBC and Standard Chartered, he says that the majority of the funds in question flowed through the UAE and Hong Kong, where the two banks have their biggest footprints.
Spokespeople for HSBC and Standard Chartered declined to comment.
According to email correspondence exposed via the Gupta leaks, Gupta owned businesses were shown to have taken money meant for an agricultural project in the Free State, and ran it through bank accounts in India belonging to businesses owned by the family.
Ex-Northern Ireland secretary Lord Hain said the chancellor had agreed the matter would be looked into.
"We are taking this very seriously because we realise the consequences of not doing so for the reputation of the City of London and the UK", said the UK Minister of State for the Department for International Development, Lord Bates.
A spokeswoman for the Financial Conduct Authority said: 'The FCA is already in contact with both banks named and will consider carefully further responses received'.
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