HSBC questioned by the UK Treasury Committee regarding its tax practices

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Stuart Gulliver, a group chief executive for HSBC and Chairman Douglas Flint answered questions from the UK Members of Parliament of the Treasury Committee this week. Mr Flint said it had caused damage to trust and confidence in the company and has apologised for unacceptable practices at the Swiss private bank, which assisted clients to avoid paying tax.
However, when asked by MPs who was most accountable for the problems in HSBC’s Swiss private bank, Mr Flint stated that the most blameworthy individuals for data theft were the relationship management in Switzerland, estimating that 40% of those relationship managers were still employed by HSBC.

Information of approximately 28,000 account details was leaked in 2007 to the French tax authorities who passed it on to the HMRC in the UK. Chief Executive of HMRC, Lin Horner said that the French authorities had approved wider use of the stolen Swiss data.

HSBC has been involved in a range of banking disputes, including the rigging of international interest rate standards and foreign exchange manipulation. When asked about the wider list of claims and investigations into HSBC, Mr Flint warned he could not exclude the possibility of coming across further problems.

Mr Gulliver, who has been an HSBC employee for 35 years, told the committee that his personal holding of a Swiss bank account through a company in Panama had no tax purpose and only represented a desire for privacy. He stated that the most important thing is that he paid UK tax on all his earnings during his entire stay in the UK so the amount of tax paid was the correct amount.