HSBC Banking Scandal

Great Barr Observer – 13th February

 

When will the wealthy bank bosses ever learn to play by the rules? The recent revelations that HSBC helped wealthy clients across the world, including in the UK, dodge hundreds of millions worth of tax are scandalous.

 

It’s money that could have been used to pay for new schools, hospitals and improvements across the country – yet bank bosses have been at it again.

 

Worse still, MPs have been told that the Government was handed information about malpractice at HSBC in 2010 and took no action. It simply brushed the evidence under the carpet.

 

Richard Brooks, former HMRC tax inspector and BBC reporter, has said that the Treasury and HMRC “knew that there was a mass of evidence of tax evasion at the heart of HSBC”, but that the Government “simply washed their hands of it”.

 

In addition, a senior HMRC official has confirmed that the Government adopted “a selective prosecution policy” towards cases related to HSBC.

 

I am outraged that it appears HMRC took a deliberate strategy to minimise rather than pursue prosecutions, which would explain why just £135m has been recouped.

 

After an Urgent Question was granted in the House of Commons on Tuesday, we are still no further forward on uncovering the truth about the Government’s role in the affair.

 

What we do know is that the Government was made aware of allegations of wrongdoing against HSBC in May 2010, eight months before the Chairman of HSBC, Stephen Green, was made a Minister.

 

As Chairman of the Bank, Mr Green would either have been aware of malpractice or, if not, surely questions would arise as to why not and his fitness for such a senior government post of Trade Minister.

 

Ministers need to come before Parliament to explain what due diligence was carried out by the Government in advance of Lord Green’s appointment concerning allegations against HSBC and Lord Green’s role in relation to them.

 

It’s also essential that we hear from Lord Green himself.

 

When the French authorities passed the HSBC files to HMRC in May 2010 the Government should have taken swift action. Ministers need to explain when they were made aware of its existence, when the Prime Minister personally found out, and what action was then taken.

Unless the public and Parliament has answers on these matters, people will simply conclude that the Government has failed to act over the deeply serious matter of tackling tax avoidance and evasion.

 

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