Tag Archives: HSBC

HSBC money-laundering link: Is this ‘the listening bank’ – for criminals?

The bank HSBC has been connected with illicit financial practices once again.

Remember when HSBC was found to have been helping thousands of wealthy clients to evade hundreds of millions of pounds worth of tax?

How about the time Swiss authorities raided the offices of HSBC’s Geneva branch over allegations of money laundering? The bank was facing criminal investigations in the US, France, Belgium and Argentina over its failure to establish proper procedures to prevent money laundering by drug cartels and terrorists.

It was revealed later that the bank only escaped prosecution in the US after the UK’s then-Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, intervened.

Older readers may remember that HSBC used to be the Midland Bank before being taken over by the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC). As the Midland, it was known as “the listening bank”. It seems these days, it mostly listens to criminals.

And earlier this year it was alleged that the bank was covertly funding the Conservative Party. This was no surprise to those of us who knew that its chairman during the tax evasion scandal, Stephen Green, had quit to become a Tory peer. A non-executive director at the time, Rona Fairhead, went on to be appointed chair of the BBC before becoming a Tory peer herself, earlier this year.

Now Lord Hain has written to another Tory Chancellor – Philip Hammond this time – calling for an investigation into possible money-laundering by HSBC and another bank, Chartered Standard, in South Africa.

Considering the close link between the bank and the Tories, what do you think will happen?

UK financial regulators and the Serious Fraud Office are to review if banks HSBC and Standard Chartered are linked to a South Africa corruption scandal.

It comes after Lord Peter Hain said the banks may “inadvertently have been conduits” for laundered money.

The Labour peer told the House of Lords that up to £400m of illicit funds may have been moved by the banks.

His concerns relate to links between South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma and a wealthy business family, the Guptas.

The peer has written to the Chancellor Philip Hammond, telling him a whistle-blower had indicated the banks “maybe inadvertently have been conduits for the corrupt proceeds of money”.

Lord Hain told the BBC he named 27 people in the letter, in addition to companies, adding that any person or firm linked to alleged corruption in South Africa is “going to be badly contaminated”.

The Treasury has asked regulators, including the Financial Conduct Authority, and the SFO to look into the allegations.

Source: UK banks ‘exposed to money laundering in South Africa’ – BBC News


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Rona Fairhead’s record should disqualify her from public office, but the Tories have found her two. Why?

Rona Fairhead: With people like this in charge of banks – and then going on to important roles in Conservative-led governments, can either the banks or the government be trusted to do what’s right for UK citizens? [Image: David Hartley/Rex/Shutterstock.]

Rona Fairhead was well-known to be a Conservative when she was appointed as chair of the BBC Trust. I commented on her political persuasion here and here.

It turns out she was also chair of HSBC’s audit committee when the bank was mired in tax avoidance and money laundering scandals. It also transpires that George Osborne, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, warned the US government not to press criminal charges against HSBC for allowing terrorists and drug dealers to launder millions of dollars.

One has to question whether Mr Osborne would have – if he had been editing the Evening Standard at the time – discouraged reporters there from writing about HSBC, as happened at the Daily Telegraph. Ah, but of course the Torygraph had recently benefited from a stonkingly huge HSBC loan – £250 million. That kind of money can seal a lot of laptops.

But then again, it was alleged earlier this year that HSBC laundered £5 million into Conservative Party hands, in advance of the 2010 general election. Would that be enough to buy George Osborne’s loyalty? I leave that to your own judgement.

Meanwhile, Ms Fairhead is now the Tory minister in charge of trade and export promotion, after being rewarded with a peerage for… well, for being involved in lots of scandals, apparently.

Tories have ‘form’ in this respect – former HSBC chairman Stephen Green quit his job (after the bank was involved in the scandals listed above) to become a Tory peer and minister of state for trade and investment in 2011.

Stephen Green: With people like this in charge of banks – and then going on to important roles in Conservative-led governments, can either the banks or the government be trusted to do what’s right for UK citizens?

Here‘s the Guardian‘s piece on Ms Fairhead’s appointment:

The former chair of the BBC Trust Rona Fairhead has been appointed as an international trade minister with a life peerage, Downing Street has announced.

Fairhead will replace Mark Price, the former Waitrose managing director who quit after a year as trade policy minister. The MP Greg Hands has taken over the policy role, and Fairhead’s title will be minister for trade and export promotion.

Fairhead was the chief executive of the Financial Times Group before taking on the BBC role, from which she resigned after Theresa May indicated that she would have to reapply for the job to which she had been appointed by David Cameron.

Fairhead was the chair of HSBC’s audit committee when the bank admitted to “past compliance and control failures” in the group, after it was mired in a tax avoidance row uncovered by the Guardian’s HSBC files investigation.

The Graun reported that Labour’s Margaret Hodge had attacked the appointment, saying it was “not down to her capabilities”. And she’s not the only one with issues:

It seems clear the Conservative government has a problem understanding the concept of trustworthiness.

A person who has been involved with a business that has regularly and unrepentantly engaged in criminal activities should not have been made chair of the BBC Trust, as David Cameron did. It casts doubt on the reasons for the appointment and raises questions about interference with BBC current affairs coverage.

Theresa May was right to demand that Ms Fairhead re-apply for the job, under those circumstances. But now she has shown a colossal error of judgement in giving the same person a peerage and ministerial appointment. Why? One has to ask what is behind this decision.

Whatever the answer to that question, we can be sure that Ms Fairhead’s appearance in the House of Lords can only undermine what little faith is left in the Conservatives as a party of government.


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Cameron and Osborne have fleeced us all – and are talking about it on the after-dinner circuit

The last laugh: David Cameron and George Osborne failed the UK bitterly – but succeeded in making a fortune for themselves.

This Writer agrees with Jeremy Corbyn: “The Tories have spent 6 years lining the pockets of their friends & as soon as they can they line their own pockets.”

Also, isn’t it interesting that George Osborne’s speech is at an event by HSBC – the bank of tax avoidance – while David Cameron’s is at an event by PwC – the accountants of tax avoidance?

David Cameron and George Osborne are being paid tens of thousands of pounds each to make speeches for leading financial institutions at the World Economic Forum.

The former Prime Minister and Chancellor, who this time last year were leading figures at the forum, will this year only attend the fringes of the event held in Davos, including a number of parties and private dinners.

Mr Cameron is to give a speech at a dinner held by accounting firm PwC, while Mr Osborne will appear at an HSBC event for 20 clients.

The fees charged by them are understood to be “in the high five figures”, plus travel and accommodation expenses.

Source: David Cameron and George Osborne cash in with big-money Davos visit

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Tax avoidance bank plans move to France over Brexit

[Image: AFP/DCNH/flickr].

This is not the first time a bank has threatened to leave the UK over Brexit.

We heard Morgan Stanley was going to go, the day the EU referendum result was announced.

And last month we were told “leading banks” would pull out of the UK in 2017.

So this latest threat is no surprise.

It also carries a little more weight than the others, because it follows UK prime minister Theresa Mayfly’s announcement that she intends to take the country out of the European Single Market.

Of course, HSBC is a bank with a tarnished reputation, having been found to have helped thousands of wealthy clients to evade hundreds of millions of pounds worth of tax.

Does that make it attractive to the French government?

HSBC bank would likely switch 1,000 jobs to Paris from London, with Britain planning to leave the EU single market under Brexit, chief executive Stuart Gulliver told Bloomberg Television.

Speaking from the World Economic Forum in the Swiss ski resort Davos, Gulliver said in an interview that “about 1,000 jobs which are carrying out activities which are covered by European legislation… would probably need, in our case, to go to France”.

While Gulliver had in the past already hinted at such a switch of investment banking jobs, his comments appeared more precise as he suggested France would take precedence over other EU nations.

“We bought Credit Commercial de France in 2002, so we have a full service universal bank in France. And so for us, it’s France.”

Activities covered by European financial regulation that would need to move equate to about 20 percent of revenue earned by HSBC’s investment bank division in London, Gulliver added.

Source: Brexit boost for France: HSBC set to switch 1,000 jobs from London to Paris

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Cameron’s lies show he must go NOW, not later – and all the other Tories with him

The message is: The UK is huge. Cameron is small. His Tory party is smaller still. They are not strong. He is not a leader.

The message is: The UK is huge. Cameron is small. His Tory party is smaller still. They are not strong. He is not a leader.

David Cameron took to the stage and lied bare-faced to a no-doubt hand-picked audience of hired-handclaps in the finale of one of the most heavily stage-managed – read fake – Conservative Party conferences in history.

Not for the Tories, the open debate and honest disagreements of Labour! Even Boris Johnson’s dissent over tax credits was a cynical piece of attempted-press-manipulation (he voted in favour of the plan to cut tax credits a few weeks ago).

So Cameron mouthed a series of lies, platitudes and nonsenses similar to those of George Osborne and Iain Duncan Smith on Monday and Tuesday.

“The British people are decent, sensible, reasonable, and they just want a government that supports the vulnerable, backs those who do the right thing and helps them get on in life. Good jobs; a decent home; better childcare; controlled immigration; lower taxes so there’s more money at the end of the month; an NHS that’s there for them, seven days a week; great schools; dignity in retirement,” he said – and that’s probably about right. But then he said: “That is what people want and that is what we will deliver.” A monstrous lie.

Cameron’s government:

  • Attacks the vulnerable (look at tax credits if you like, or the row over the many deaths of incapacity benefits claimants that could have been avoided if Cameron and Iain Duncan Smith had wanted to);
  • Backs tax fraudsters (the HSBC scandal);
  • Offers poor, zero-hours-contract jobs;
  • Pushes the poor out of their homes (bedroom tax).
  • The UK has been rocked by huge paedophile scandals on Cameron’s watch;
  • The Conservatives have failed to control immigration;
  • Lower taxes mean fewer public services because the money isn’t there to pay for them. The main beneficiaries are the very rich;
  • The NHS is facing its biggest-ever crisis thanks to Tory mismanagement – which is all part of Cameron’s plan;
  • Our schools are being sold off to private companies who intend to profit from them – your child’s education is of secondary interest; and
  • The Tories are being encouraged to cut benefits for pensioners – who will either be dead by 2020 (because of the removal of their benefits?) or will have forgotten who robbed them.

So Cameron’s first claim about the joy of Conservative government was a tenfold lie. It’s impressive – for all the wrong reasons.

And he knows he’s on shaky ground now. A new power has risen in the Labour Party to challenge the basis on which Cameron’s policies are founded – and did exactly that, on the doorstep of the Tory conference, this week.

So Cameron attacked Jeremy Corbyn with all the venom he could muster: “Thousands of words have been written about the new Labour leader. But you only really need to know one thing: he thinks the death of Osama bin Laden was a ‘tragedy. No. A tragedy is nearly 3,000 people murdered one morning in New York.” He was saying that Jeremy Corbyn is soft on terrorists and unsympathetic to their victims. Another lie.

Jeremy Corbyn wanted Osama Bin Laden to face justice for his many crimes. He wanted the man to pay for all the deaths he caused, and he wanted the terrorist alive to provide details of his network of co-conspirators.

By attacking Corbyn’s stance, David Cameron was in fact saying that both he and the Conservative Party support the murder of Bin Laden, rather than his capture, and that they are glad Bin Laden’s co-conspirators were allowed to continue, in freedom – perhaps to form IS or Boko Haram.

But we all knew that Cameron is a liar.

So here’s a statement that he made in the belief that it is true (we have to assume he intended to lie with the others): “I’m starting the second half of my time in this job.”

For the good of the United Kingdom – and the wider world – we must work hard to turn that statement into a lie.

Cameron doesn’t deserve to be Prime Minister of Britain for the next five minutes, let alone the next five years.

But the only way to get him out is to attack him, on every level, at all times, and all together.

Expecting someone else to do the heavy lifting won’t be any good at all.

So why not start by reading Cameron’s speech – The Guardian has a transcript here – and then getting in touch with your local newspapers, MP, TV stations, and Cameron himself and raising any or all of the moments at which he lied to the nation.

Put them all on notice. We know they are not to be trusted.

We know they have to go.

We have to make sure that happens soon.

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If banks want regulation costs cut, they should be more trustworthy

With people like this in charge of banks - and then going on to important roles in Conservative-led governments, can either the banks or the government be trusted to do what's right for UK citizens?

With people like this in charge of banks – and then going on to important roles in Conservative-led governments, can either the banks or the government be trusted to do what’s right for UK citizens?

Banks and other financial organisations want the Conservative government to slash the cost of complying with new regulations, according to the Confederation of British Industry. Doesn’t your heart just bleed for them?

Thse are the organisations that sucked the UK into the global financial crisis and allowed the Conservatives to form a government after the 2010 election (they didn’t win it) with a false claim that Labour overspent.

Now they want the regulations that prevent them from causing another crisis to be eased.

Considering the banks’ record, it would be madness to do so. Let’s see how long it takes the Tories to comply.

According to The Guardian, “As the City recovers from the financial crisis, companies are lobbying for an end to criticism of the banking industry and an easing of rules designed to prevent another crisis.

“They argue the sector is a big employer and that the City’s position as a financial centre is important for the UK’s economy.”

Finance is indeed a big employer, here in the UK – but only because Conservative-led governments since 2010 have utterly failed to build up any other industry while continuing to pander to the banks.

Meanwhile, the taxpayer has been supporting banks heavily, with 4.21 per cent of government spending – that’s £41 billion per year – being supplied to these very profitable institutions for no very good reason.

And they’re complaining about the cost of regulations!

It gets better. The regulations against which they are complaining include:

  • The ring-fence required by 2019 to separate retail and investment banking, so that bad investments cannot affect the safety of depositors’ money.
  • The introduction of criminal liability for senior executives whose reckless behaviour causes their company to fail.

That’s right – bank bosses are angry that the government is actually trying to stop them from penalising ordinary account holders for their gambling losses, and upset that they might have to pay a debt to society if their decisions harm the viability of their firms.

Clearly these bankers have not learned their lesson and want to inflict further debt upon the taxpayer while making off like the bandits they are.

According to The Guardian, “HSBC has taken the lead for the banks by threatening to leave the UK if it decides the cost of remaining is too great. Britain’s biggest bank listed ringfencing and the [bank] levy, which HSBC says affects it disproportionately, as important considerations.”

This is the bank that, earlier this year, was implicated in one of the biggest organised tax avoidance schemes to be uncovered in the UK in recent times.

It is important to note that the survey was compiled with accounting firm PwC, which has been singled out by HM Revenue and Customs as having created hugely lucrative schemes to help companies and the hugely wealthy to avoid paying their taxes.

Shouldn’t the government’s response be: “F*** off, then – but pay your back taxes first”?

The last thing the government should do is give in to these demands, and taxpayers across the country should write in to George Osborne, warning him against any such move.

There is no reason to trust the banks with any more responsibility than the bare minimum. They simply haven’t earned our trust back yet.

If the banks want more freedom, they should be told to bloody well earn it.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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Iceland is jailing bankers – we’re still giving them bonuses

150219icelands-jailed-bankers

Iceland’s Supreme Court have sentenced four bank bosses from Kaupthing bank to serve jail time, according to yournewswire.com.

Bankers Sigurdur Einarsson, former chairman of the board, Hreidar Mar Sigurdsson, the former chief executive, Magnus Gudmundsson, the former chief executive of the Luxembourg branch and Olafur Olafsson, one of the majority owners, were sentenced to jail time of between four and five and a half years each.

The court found that they hid the fact that Qatari investor Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Bin Hamad al-Thani bought a stake in Kaupthing, using money borrowed illegally from the bank itself.

Al-Thani’s purchase, a 5.1 per cent share, was announced only a few weeks before the bank collapsed. It was seen as a confidence boost for the bank while rumours circulated that it was in trouble.

These are the heaviest sentences for financial fraud in Iceland’s history. The four will have to pay their own legal costs for the case, which amount to 82 million kronur or approximately 670 thousand US dollars.

You can read the full story on yournewswire.com.

Meanwhile, in the UK – where bank bonus culture continues unabated – the former boss of a huge multinational bank (HSBC) that illegally helped more than 7,000 customers to avoid paying their taxes appears to be under the protection of the country’s prime minister – whose own family (as has been well-established) made its money from advising people on how to avoid paying taxes.

HM Revenue and Customs has identified 1,100 UK citizens who could be prosecuted for avoiding tax – only one person has faced such prosecution.

One of the UK’s most respected newspapers, the Daily Telegraph, has been avoiding the story (allegedly) because it wants to protect a lucrative advertising contract with HSBC.

Our government of Conservative Party and Liberal Democrat MPs is – as far as anybody can see – protecting the people who caused the financial crash of 2007 onwards, along with those who – by withholding the tax money they owe the UK Treasury – have forced unnecessary austerity onto the poorest people in the country.

It is estimated that thousands – perhaps tens of thousands – of people have died because of benefit cuts and sanctions that have been administered either by fraud or error.

Yet the Conservative Party is still expected to return nearly 300 members to Parliament on May 8.

Can anybody explain that?

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Will the submarine chancellor surface to talk about tax dodging?

Another Tory crook?

Another Tory crook?

It seems the Tories have nowhere to hide today – now Labour is piling on the pressure over tax dodging and the HSBC scandal.

Ed Miliband suggested the government had “gone into hiding” over the issue at his question and answer session in the West Midlands earlier today, and now Chris Leslie, Labour’s shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, has stepped into the fray.

“We’ve now had a week of silence from George Osborne – the submarine chancellor still hasn’t surfaced,” he said.

“It is time he and David Cameron finally started answering questions about HSBC and Lord Green… In this row over tax evasion David Cameron and George Osborne are now guilty of political evasion.”

Earlier, Mr Leslie had said: “We need a full and frank statement from Lord Green explaining what he knew about what was happening while he was in charge of HSBC.

“There are also mounting questions for ministers, which continue to go unanswered. Did David Cameron and George Osborne discuss tax evasion at HSBC with Lord Green? The Prime Minister failed to answer this four times in the House of Commons.

“Why did they appoint Lord Green as a Tory minister months after the government received these files? Why have we only had one prosecution out of 1,100 names? And why did George Osborne and the Treasury sign a deal with the Swiss in 2012 which prevents the UK from actively obtaining similar information in the future?

“It is time we finally had answers from David Cameron and George Osborne.”

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