Tag Archives: laundering

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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Toughen international tax laws, says Osborne – ‘cos we won’t in Britain!

Would you trust this man to stop tax evasion and avoidance? No? Good – because he won’t.

George Osborne really thinks we’re all stupid, doesn’t he?

Today he got together with his German counterpart, Wolfgang Schauble, to say co-operation between countries is needed to close loopholes that have allowed high-profile firms like Starbucks and Google to pay next to nothing in Corporation Tax.

They told a G20 meeting of finance ministers in Mexico to help identify possible gaps in tax laws.

Just wait one nit-picking moment, Mr 0!

I remember an article by the great George Monbiot (who happens to be almost a neighbour of mine) about the effects of a couple of minor adjustments to the tax acts of 1988 and 2009 – that meant companies in the UK pay nothing at all on money made by their foreign branches and may claim the expense of funding their foreign branches against tax paid in the UK.

The measures meant any UK company that did not outsource its staff or funnel its earnings through a tax haven would find itself at a competitive disadvantage.

So you see Starbucks and Google have been doing (more or less) exactly what these changes in UK tax law intended them to do – and Gideon’s pose with Schauble is just so much hot air and posturing.

Mr Monbiot went on to say the following: “Our political system protects and enriches a fantastically wealthy elite, much of whose money is, as a result of their interesting tax and transfer arrangements, in effect stolen from poorer countries, and poorer citizens of their own countries.

“Ours is a semi-criminal money-laundering economy, legitimised by the pomp of the lord mayor’s show and multiple layers of defence in government. Politically irrelevant, economically invisible, the rest of us inhabit the margins of the system.

“Governments ensure that we are thrown enough scraps to keep us quiet, while the ultra-rich get on with the serious business of looting the global economy and crushing attempts to hold them to account.”

Not only is Mr 0 shafting us (and by “us” I include anyone with a business that isn’t big enough to indulge in the shady practices listed above); he’s passing the buck onto Johnny Foreigner to put things right (in the certain knowledge that it isn’t going to happen).

Well, Gideon, that’s just too bad because I reckon I’ve caught you red-handed.