Stephen Keith Green, Baron Green of Hurstpierpoint (an immoral priest!)
Lord Stephen Green Chief Executive, then chairman of HSBC until 2010. Appointed minister for trade and investment under David Cameron.
HSBC was headed during the period covered in the files by Stephen Green – now Lord Green – who served as the global bank’s chief executive, then group chairman until 2010 when he left to become a trade minister in the House of Lords for David Cameron’s new government. He declined to comment when approached by the Guardian.
HSBC is already facing criminal investigations and charges in France, Belgium, the US and Argentina as a result of the leak of the files, but no legal action has been taken against it in Britain.
The files show how HSBC in Switzerland keenly marketed tax avoidance strategies to its wealthy clients. The bank proactively contacted clients in 2005 to suggest ways to avoid a new tax levied on the Swiss savings accounts of EU citizens, a measure brought in through a treaty between Switzerland and the EU to tackle secret offshore accounts. The documents also show HSBC’s Swiss subsidiary providing banking services to relatives of dictators, people implicated in African corruption scandals, arms industry figures and others. Swiss banking rules have since 1998 required high levels of diligence on the accounts of politically connected figures, but the documents suggest that at the time HSBC happily provided banking services to such controversial individuals.
HSBC hides the money of the 1%
Hollywood stars, shopkeepers, royalty and clothing merchants feature in the files along with the heirs to some of Europe’s biggest fortunes.
HSBC ‘helped clients dodge tax’
Banking giant HSBC helped wealthy clients across the world evade hundreds of millions of pounds worth of tax, the BBC has learned. Panorama has seen accounts from 106,000 clients in 203 countries, leaked by whistleblower Herve Falciani in 2007. The documents include details of almost 7,000 clients based in the UK. HSBC admitted that it was “accountable for past control failures.” But it said it has now “fundamentally changed”.
The thousands of pages of data were obtained by the French newspaper Le Monde. In a joint investigation, the documents have now been passed to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, the Guardian newspaper, Panorama and more than 50 media outlets around the world. HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) was given the leaked data in 2010 and has identified 1,100 people from the list of 7,000 British clients who had not paid their taxes. But almost five years later, only one tax evader has been prosecuted.
HSBC did not just turn a blind eye to tax evaders – in some cases it broke the law by actively helping its clients.
HSBC files show how Swiss bank helped clients dodge taxes and hide millions.
Data in massive cache of leaked secret bank account files lift lid on questionable practices at subsidiary of one of world’s biggest financial institutions.
Approached by the Guardian, HSBC, the world’s second largest bank, has now admitted wrongdoing by its Swiss subsidiary. “We acknowledge and are accountable for past compliance and control failures,” the bank said in a statement. The Swiss arm, the statement said, had not been fully integrated into HSBC after its purchase in 1999, allowing “significantly lower” standards of compliance and due diligence to persist. That response raises serious questions about oversight of the Swiss operation by the then senior executives of its parent company, HSBC Group, headquartered in London. It has now acknowledged that it was not until 2011 that action was taken to bring the Swiss bank into line. “HSBC was run in a more federated way than it is today and decisions were frequently taken at a country level,” the bank said. HSBC was headed during the period covered in the files by Stephen Green – now Lord Green – who served as the global bank’s chief executive, then group chairman until 2010 when he left to become a trade minister in the House of Lords for David Cameron’s new government. He declined to comment when approached by the Guardian.
HSBC’s Swiss bankers were also prepared to help Emmanuel Shallop, who was subsequently convicted of dealing in “blood diamonds”, the illegal trade that fuelled war in Africa. One memo records: “We have opened a company account for him based in Dubai … The client is currently being very careful because he is under pressure from the Belgian tax authorities who are investigating his activities in the field of diamond tax evasion.” The records indicate HSBC managers were untroubled that a customer collecting cash bundles of kroner might be breaking Danish law. HSBC staff were instructed: “All contacts through one of her 3 daughters living in London. Account holder living in Denmark, i.e. critical as it is a criminal act having an account abroad non declared.”
Cash pilgrims and bricks of money: HSBC Swiss bank operated like cash machine for rich clients
With untraceable cash, tax returns become voluntary. Former tax inspector Richard Brooks told the Guardian: “If you withdraw cash from a bank in Geneva or Zurich, there’s no trail of that over here. Most rich individuals will get their accountants to fill in their tax returns. They’ll be working from their banking records. But there’s nothing for your accountant to see.”