25 Feb 2015

I paid my tax in full – HSBC Chief Executive Stuart Gulliver

In the wake of revelations of tax evasion at the bank’s Swiss branch, HSBC Chief Executive Stuart Gulliver tells MPs his complex pay arrangements “had no tax purpose”.

Appearing before the Treasury committee, Mr Gulliver was asked to explain arrangements he had in place to hide how much he was paid from his colleagues when he was running HSBC’s markets operations in Hong Kong.

The use of a Swiss account via a Panamanian shell company had “no tax purpose” Mr Gulliver told MPs. He conceded that, 15 years later, “clearly Panama looks quite strange”, but he had not chosen Panama himself – “it was simply a structure that, at that particular time, our Swiss private bank was putting in place.”

Mr Gulliver conceded that the arrangement “suggests there might have been other reasons related to tax” but, he added: “there were not.”

“I have paid UK tax on my worldwide earnings for HSBC, all my HSBC dividends, all shares that I have sold”.

HSBC Chairman Douglas Flint conceded that the bank was suffering “horrible reputational damage” and said he “sincerely hoped there were no more skeletons”.

Lord Green

Surely former HSBC boss Lord Stephen Green should also be answerable to MPs, writes Channel 4 News Business Editor Siobhan Kennedy: “he is the only man who has so far refused to say a thing about Mexico, the deferred prosecution in the US or the Swiss tax scandal.. Parliament can and should require him to step forward and be held to account.”

Read her blog in full: HSBC bosses face tough questions at Westminster

In response to the revelations of wrongdoing in its Swiss branch, the bank has previously said “we acknowledge and are accountable for past compliance and control failures”, adding “standards of diligence were significatnly lower than toaday.”

Who knew what, when?
2008 Whistleblower Herve Falciani fled to France with data relating to some 127,000 client accounts.
2010 French authorities passed data relating to UK account holders, to the UK tax authorities.
2012 HSBC is fined $1.9bn for money laundering in the USA. A second whistleblower reveals details of 4,388 British accounts managed by HSBC in Jersey.
2015 A variety of news outlets publish allegations that HSBC's Swiss banking arm had allowed clients to evade tax and conceal assets.