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HSBC money cult where all the crooks go for protection

 
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TonyGosling
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 12, 2013 11:21 pm    Post subject: HSBC money cult where all the crooks go for protection Reply with quote

Ex-spy boss Sir Jonathan Evans to help HSBBC in fight against financial crime

Bank hires former head of MI5 to clean up its act after being fined by US authorities
James Moore - Friday 31 May 2013
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/exspy-boss-sir-jonatha n-evans-to-help-hsbc-in-fight-against-financial-crime-8639708.html

It sounds like a plot from a novel by Dame Stella Rimington: bank hires former spymaster to help catch sinister international criminals blamed for damaging its reputation.

Except that this is a true story. HSBC has hired one of Dame Stella’s successors as chief spymaster at MI5 in the form of Sir Jonathan Evans.

Sir Jonathan has been appointed to help Britain’s biggest bank to clean up its act after US authorities fined it nearly $2bn (£1.3bn) for acting as a conduit for Mexican drug money and sanctions busting.

He will earn £125,000 for serving on HSBC’s Financial System Vulnerabilities Committee as well as joining its board as a non-executive director. The fee for the part-time roles compares to the £159,999 he was paid for his role at the head of Britain’s domestic spy agency in 2010, which was the last time it revealed his salary.

Sir Jonathan will put in 36 days a year for his work on the board, plus an unspecified number of extra days sitting on the committee, which will meet at least eight times a year.

The committee was set to help the bank identify areas where it could be exposed to financial crime, as HSBC battles to restore a reputation that was badly tarnished by the Americans’ findings.

Banks are increasingly being asked to take a leading role in the battle against financial crime, by spotting suspicious activity and alerting the authorities when they see it. Those that fail to take that role seriously can expect to be heavily penalised.

HSBC avoided criminal charges from the US Department of Justice only by signing a deferred prosecution agreement but was placed on probation for five years, and it is now operating on a very short lead with US authorities.

In response, it has increased the control the centre of the organisation has over its far-flung businesses, and sold subsidiaries in numerous “peripheral” territories.

Announcing the appointment yesterday, HSBC chairman Douglas Flint said that Sir Jonathan’s expertise would “be of considerable value to the board as it addresses its governance of systemic threats”.

The bank’s critics put a less flattering spin on the hire. David Hillman, spokesman for the Robin Hood Tax Campaign, which wants banks to be charged a financial transactions tax, said: “It shouldn’t be a surprise that someone who used to work in the shadows has been recruited by a sector that often operates in them. If a bank looking to clean up its act expects the appointment of a spy to do the trick, then they have another thing coming.”

Colleagues of Sir Jonathan on the committee include former deputy US attorney general Jim Comey, Bill Hughes, a former head of Britain’s Serious Organised Crime Agency, and Dave Hartnett, the controversial former head of HM Revenue & Customs.

Other banks have made similarly high-profile hires as they seek to clean up their acts in the wake of the a string of scandals. Barclays appointed Hector Sants, the former chief executive of the Financial Services Authority, as its head of compliance and government relations, while Royal Bank of Scotland made Jon Pain, another former senior watchdog, its compliance chief.

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Last edited by TonyGosling on Sat Nov 19, 2016 9:10 pm; edited 2 times in total
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 18, 2013 10:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

HSBC’s drugs money laundering settlement a mockery of justice, says Warren

March 7th, 2013
http://www.ianfraser.org/hsbcs-drugs-money-laundering-settlement-a-moc kery-of-justice-says-sen-warren/

Senator Elizabeth Warren (Democrat-Massachusetts), has once again revealed the dangerous double standards at the heart of the US justice system. Appearing at the Senate Banking Committee, the former Harvard law professor questioned officials from the US Treasury Department and US Federal Reserve over why criminal charges were not pressed on HSBC or any HSBC official who helped to launder hundreds of millions of dollars for Mexican drug cartels. But just like the last time, she was met with wholly inadequate responses. The impression one got from the Treasury and Fed officials was that some banks are not just ‘too big to fail’, they are also ‘too big to prosecute’, and ‘too big to jail’.

The HSBC scandal prompted the United States Treasury and Justice departments to fine HSBC a record $1.92 billion after finding that the London headquartered bank repeatedly helped the world’s most violent drug gangs to launder at least $881 million in ill-gotten gains and to channel money from numerous countries against which the the U.S. has economic sanctions. Warren said:-

“HSBC paid a fine, but no one individual went to trial, no individual was banned from banking, and there was no hearing to consider shutting down HSBC’s activities here in the United States. So, what I’d like is, you’re the experts on money laundering. I’d like an opinion: What does it take — how many billions do you have to launder for drug lords and how many economic sanctions do you have to violate — before someone will consider shutting down a financial institution like this?”

Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen admitted that HSBC’s actions were “egregious” but failed to answer Warren’s question.

“For our part, we imposed on HSBC the largest penalties that we’ve ever imposed on any financial institution ever. We looked at the facts and determined that the most appropriate response there was a very, very significant penalty against the institution.”

When Warren repeatedly asked whether regulators could identify a line beyond which a bank should face losing a license, Cohen struggled to respond before saying: “The actions that we took in the HSBC case we thought were appropriate in that instance” and “We at the Treasury Department… don’t have the authority to shut down a financial institution.”

“I understand that,” Warren said, visibly annoyed. “I’m asking, in your opinion — you’re the ones who are supposed to be the experts on money laundering, you work with everyone else including the Department of Justice — in your opinion, how many billions of dollars do you have to launder for drug lords before somebody says, ‘We’re shutting you down’?”

Cohen continued to stonewall, merely saying that the Treasury vigorously prosecutes and fines offending banks while insisting: “I’m not going to get into some hypothetical line-drawing exercise.”

Frustrated, Warren turned to Federal Reserve board member Jerome H. Powell, who told her that the US authorities, including the Fed, could only shut down a bank following a criminal conviction. Powell said:-

“That’s not something — we don’t do criminal investigation. We don’t do trials or anything like that. We do civil enforcement, and in the case of HSBC we gave essentially the statutory maximum.”

Warren seemed genuinely stunned, saying: “You have no advice to the Justice Department on whether or not this was an appropriate case for a criminal action?” But Powell deflected, saying that’s the Department of Justice’s domain and that the Fed will “collaborate with them” mainly by answering questions, not by recommending prosecutions. Warren ended the session by saying:-

“You know, if you’re caught with an ounce of cocaine, the chances are good you’re going to go to jail. If it happens repeatedly, you may go to jail for the rest of your life. But evidently, if you launder nearly a billion dollars for drug cartels and violate our international sanctions, your company pays a fine and you go home and sleep in your own bed at night, every single individual associated with this. I think that’s fundamentally wrong.”

It seems that, in Washington D.C. at least, the mood is turning against the notion that banks and bankers who commit crimes should be immune from prosecution. New rules are being weighed up that will hold individuals specifically liable, and older rules — rarely used to take action against executives — will also be explored, officials from the Office of the Comptroller of Currency and the Treasury Department’s illicit finance unit told lawmakers on Thursday. See Reuters – ‘Regulators look to punish bankers for money laundering‘

Elizabeth Warren and other quotes via Raw Story.

And here are Warren’s earlier questions to US regulators, on February 14th, 2013, at which she asked them when was the last time they took the biggest financial institutions on Wall Street all the way to a trial. This one sets the context for the above.



Here is the transcript of the February 14th, 2013 session via Switch Your Bank

Elizabeth Warren: I want to ask a question about supervising big banks when they break the law, including the mortgage foreclosures, but others as well. You know, we all understand why settlements are important, that trials are expensive and we can’t dedicate huge resources to them. But we also understand that if a party is unwilling to go to trial, either because they’re too timid, or because they lack resources, that the consequence is they have a lot less leverage in all of the settlements that occur.

Now, I know there have been some landmark settlements, but we face some very special issues with big financial institutions. If they can break the law and drag in billions in profits, and then turn around and settle, paying out of those profits, they don’t have much incentive to follow the law.

It’s also the case that every time there is a settlement and not a trial, it means that we didn’t have those days and days and days of testimony about what those financial institutions had been up to.

So the question I really want to ask is about how tough you are about how much leverage you really have in these settlements? And what I’d like to know is, tell me a little bit about the last few times you’ve taken the biggest financial institutions on Wall Street all the way to a trial?

(Applause)

Anybody?

Chairman Curry?

Thomas Curry, US Comptroller of Currency: To offer my perspective…

Warren: Sure.

Curry: … of a bank supervisor? We primarily view the tools that we have as mechanisms for correcting deficiencies. So the primary motive for our enforcement actions is really to identify the problem, and then demand a solution to it on an ongoing basis.

Warren: That’s right. And then you set a price for that. I’m sorry to interrupt, but I just want to move this along. It’s effectively a settlement. And what I’m asking is, when did you last take — and I know you haven’t been there forever, so I’m really asking about the OCC — a large financial institution, a Wall Street bank, to trial?

Curry: Well, the institutions I supervise, national banks and federal thrifts, we’ve actually had a fairly fair number of consent orders. We do not have to bring people to trial or …

Warren: Well, I appreciate that you say you don’t have to bring them to trial. My question is, when did you bring them to trial?

Curry: We have not had to do it as a practical matter to achieve our supervisory goals.

Warren: Ms. Walter?

Elisse Walter, chairman of the SEC: Thank you, Senator. As you know, among our remedies are penalties, but the penalties we can get are limited. And we actually have asked for additional authority — my predecessor did — to raise penalties. But when we look at these issues — and we truly believe that we have a very vigorous enforcement program — we look at the distinction between what we could get if we go to trial, and what we could get if we don’t.

Warren: I appreciate that. That’s what everybody does. And so, the really asking is, can you identify when you last took the Wall Street banks to trial?

Walter: I will have to get back to you with the specific information, but we do litigate and we do have settlements that are either rejected by the commission, or not put forward for approval.

Warren: Okay. We’ve got multiple people here. Anyone else want to tell me about the last time you took a Wall Street bank to trial? You know, I just want to note on this, there are district attorneys and U.S. attorneys who are out there every day squeezing ordinary citizens on sometimes very thin grounds, and taking them to trial in order to make an example, as they put it. I’m really concerned that Too Big Too Fail has become Too Big For Trial. That just seems wrong to me.


Short URL: http://www.ianfraser.org/?p=9307

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 27, 2013 11:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

HSBC cuts Mediterranean private bank team after drug-ring investigation
By Martin de Sa'Pinto

ZURICH | Thu Jun 27, 2013 5:56pm BST
http://uk.reuters.com/article/2013/06/27/uk-hsbc-investigation-idUKBRE 95Q10O20130627

(Reuters) - HSBC's (HSBA.L) private bank in Switzerland is "dramatically" cutting its north Africa and Israel teams after a former employee was convicted of laundering money for Moroccan drug dealers, it said.

Sources close to the bank said the Mediterranean and Israel business, known as Medis, had managed up to $8 billion (5.2 billion pounds) and had between 12 and 15 staff.

"We have restructured the business dramatically. That will see the majority of clients leave," HSBC spokesman Medard Schoenmaeckers said.

He declined to say how many staff would remain.

A former HSBC banker, fired after an internal investigation last year, was convicted in January of laundering money through Swiss bank accounts for Moroccan drug smugglers, along with his brother who worked for a Geneva-based asset manager.

"We conducted a strategic review of the Mediterranean business, partly driven by internal investigations that started last year," Schoenmaeckers said. The investigation was triggered by a criminal case involving one of its bankers, he said.

Schoenmaeckers said the bank was not involved in the drug smuggling investigation and had cooperated fully with the police. He also said separate Israel teams in Zurich, Tel Aviv and New York that were not part of Medis were unaffected.

HSBC has been embroiled in a string of scandals, including allowing itself to be used to launder Mexican and Columbian drug money, manipulation of benchmark interest rates such as Libor and the mis-selling of financial products.

In January it said it would hire former U.S. deputy attorney general Jim Comey to help avoid a repeat of lapses in its anti-money-laundering controls.

HSBC's Swiss private bank manages a total 171 billion francs (120 billion pounds) at the end of 2012 had 2,600 staff.

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 10, 2014 8:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

New BBC chief being sued over allegations HSBC laundered terrorists and drug cartels' money during her time as chairman of bank's 'risk committee'
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2750024/New-BBC-chief-sued-all egations-HSBC-laundered-terrorists-drug-cartels-money-time-chairman-ba nk-s-risk-committee.html
By Alasdair Glennie for the Daily Mail
00:30 10 Sep 2014, updated 08:36 10 Sep 201
Rona Fairhead is set to become the first woman to lead the corporation
Hours after MPs approved her appointment, details of the lawsuit emerged
The 53-year-old chaired 'risk committee' when bank was fined £1.2billion
It was a settlement over allegations they breached international sanctions
Rona Fairhead, who had her appointment as BBC chairman approved yesterday, is being sued over her involvement in the HSBC money-laundering scandal +4
Rona Fairhead, who had her appointment as BBC chairman approved yesterday, is being sued over her involvement in the HSBC money-laundering scandal
The BBC’s chairman-elect is being sued over her involvement in the HSBC money-laundering scandal, it was revealed yesterday.
Rona Fairhead, who is set to become the first woman to lead the corporation, had her appointment approved by MPs yesterday.
But hours after the Commons hearing it emerged the 53-year-old is facing a class action lawsuit by HSBC shareholders over allegations the bank allowed terrorists and Mexican drug cartels to launder money.
Mrs Fairhead chaired the bank’s ‘risk committee’ in 2012, when it was fined £1.2billion by US authorities to settle allegations that it allowed drug traffickers to launder millions of pounds.
Michael Mason-Mahon, an HSBC shareholder who filed the case in a New York court on May 7, said it would be an ‘obscene joke’ to appoint Mrs Fairhead to head the BBC given her senior role at the bank.
He wants the US courts to force her and 88 other directors to repay the fines the bank incurred over the scandal.
He said: ‘Mrs Fairhead’s credentials are great, as long as you ignore what she’s done at HSBC for the past ten years.




Mr Ethical
Whistleblower, activist & consultant fighting fraud

http://nicholaswilson.com/

Exposing £1bn fraud by HSBC (HFC Bank) that has been covered up or whitewashed by all the regulators and police involved. I am now preparing for a private prosecution of the bank and solicitors. Please help by donating if you can.

I used to be head of debt recovery at Weightmans solicitors and acted for the John Lewis Partnership for 25 years. I now reveal that hundreds of thousands of people have paid, or are still paying “collection charges”, unlawful contingency fees which were added to balances if they defaulted on the following accounts that the bank handled: John Lewis, Dixons, Currys, B&Q, PC World, Furniture Village; Marbles and GM Card credit cards and loans from HFC Bank and Beneficial Finance.

There is no provision for these charges in the consumer credit agreements – it is basically fraud. Here is simple definition of fraud:

The charges were added by Restons solicitors, and Weightmans, who kept the money for their fees, so the bank paid nothing. The charges ranged from about £500 to over £5,000. The solicitors make millions.

My boss at Weightmans used to refer to me as Mr Ethical when I constantly reminded him that the charges were illegal. John Lewis had always treated debtors fairly. As soon as the bank took over they started adding illegal charges.

This is Restons’ boss, Christopher Reston’s private jet which he flies to the UK from tax haven Andorra:



The chairman of HSBC at the time, Stephen Green was made a Lord in 2010, one day before the OFT published an order against the bank forbidding them from adding the illegal charges, and is now Trade Minister in David Cameron’s government.



In August 2012 I reported HSBC to the Financial Services Authority, the bank’s solicitor, Duncan Hamilton, and the firm of Restons to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (see blog). Since my report Hamilton has left HSBC and since March 2013 he works with Restons as a consultant. Despite the OFT order, the Financial Conduct Authority (the supposed regulator of banks) have recently told me that they reason they didn’t investigate my report of fraud was because the bank were entitled to add the charges!

I told Duncan Hamilton in 2003 that the charges were unlawful, but the bank and solicitors carried on applying them until ordered to stop by the Office of Fair Trading in 2010. This is from the order of the Office of Fair Trading:



This is the link to their press release.

I want to see people held to account for this fraud and for the bank’s customers (often sub-prime borrowers) to be compensated. HSBC bought HFC bank in 2003, but the unlawful charges had been applied by Restons before then and I estimate in total for at least 15 years. It is even possible that HSBC had not known about this until my exposure.

HSBC are telling the media a litany of lies to try to avoid exposure (see blog pages)

Because Weightmans continued to either ignore my complaints about the charges, or claim they were not illegal, I reported them to the Law Society in 2006 and was immediately sacked. The Law Society confirmed that the practice was unlawful but took no action, there was a cover-up and Weightmans continued to apply the charges – although I don’t know on what basis, it was still in breach of Law Society rules.

The average sum added was £1,500 and in some cases over £5,000. I conservatively estimate about 500,000 people have been affected (16.4% of the debt was added to the total claimed, before the solicitors did any work) amounting to some £750,000,000 in unlawful charges and possibly as much as £1bn. These charges can be reclaimed under the Consumer Credit Act.* I will keep campaigning for justice for consumers, and would hope that the bank would work with me to achieve this.

Most of the evidence is on this site. For more details and copy documents please contact me.

*I have helped some people recover these charges, with interest, and I will continue to do so for no fee.










My mail to the US court responsible for HSBC DPA
My email to Financial Conduct Authority
HSBC’s Deferred Prosecution Agreement
HSBC’s “fake” solicitors
Proof of collusion between HSBC and FCA
Wonga v HSBC (HFC)
Talk at the Ethical Society 8 June 2014
Deep fraud and the ecology of capitalism
Details of charges of fraud against HSBC and solicitors
18 second dismissal by HSBC of my 10 years of work
Three documents which prove HSBC fraud
“We are in dispute with Mr Wilson”
Private prosecution against HSBC launched
Private prosecution of HSBC and solicitors
My MP’s disgrace
Is MI5 protecting HSBC?
FCA cover-up
FCA confirm that they have done nothing
Benefits stopped
Sham “job interview”
Action Fraud have no record of complaint
A warning to HSBC, Restons & Weightmans
The cover-ups
Is knowing what regulators do with fraud reports in the public interest?
This is what could happen if victims knew of illegal charges.
SRA tells me to get stuffed
Height of arrogance?
New complaint to SRA
Restons collude with bank in fraud
Enough evidence of cover-up?
About my fighting fund
FCA have lost my complaint
Regulators in action
More SRA bluster
FoI to FCA
What is the FCA doing?
Semantics – how bankers and lawyers escape the law
Freedom of Information Request to the Legal Services Board
Why did Legal Service Board’s attitude change?
Unbelievable response from Legal Services Board
Nauseating practices by Household in US
Fraud explained with lentils
Max Keiser hears about the HSBC(HFC) fraud
Email to Douglas Flint HSBC
New email to HSBC lawyer
Correspondence with HSBC
HSBC (HFC) lawyers admit fraud
Trying to make banks work for us…
Smartarse lawyer’s response to Private Eye
SRA had a chat with Restons
Intervention at Making Banks Work for Us
email sent to Douglas Flint, Chair HSBC Holdings
Why is it fraud?
email to Solicitors Regulation Authority
Unpublished Private Eye article
HSBC – you have to take it seriously
Email sent to HSBC
£44m in illegal charges in one year.
Even more evidence of HSBC lies
Further lies from HSBC
Evidence of HSBC lies
HFC attitude to PPI
Illegal charges
Further cover-up
Ed Miliband hears about HSBC illegal charges – youtube clip
Revolving doors
Further evidence of SRA cover-up
Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012
Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards
What happens to the charges?
Why is Stephen Green a baron & trade minister? Diamond resigned.
Any VAT Experts?
Do illegal work for HSBC or be sacked
HSBC confused
Whistleblowers UK
Coincidence ?
Parliamentary cover-up?
Unlawful charges – breach of the Solicitors Act 1974
Illegal HSBC charge of £4,962.06
HSBC regrets buying HFC Bank
“You know what banks are like for that sort of thing” – Judge Robinson
Catch 22
Ministry of Justice refuse access to public domain information
“Mr Ethical”
This is why contingency fees are unlawful
Psychiatric report
False accounting?
Refusal to discuss illegal contract
The crucial email
Lunch
Bullet points
HSBC (HFC) reported to FSA
Whistleblowers UK launch

http://nicholaswilson.com/

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 09, 2015 12:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Banking giant HSBC sheltered cash linked to dictators and arms dealers
Team of journalists from 45 countries unearths secret bank accounts maintained for criminals, traffickers, tax dodgers, politicians and celebrities
http://www.irishtimes.com/business/financial-services/banking-giant-hs bc-sheltered-cash-linked-to-dictators-and-arms-dealers-1.2095966

Tina Turner has lived in Switzerland for nearly two decades and gave up her US citizenship in 2013.
Sun, Feb 8, 2015, 21:00
Tina Turner has lived in Switzerland for nearly two decades and gave up her US citizenship in 2013. Hollywood actor John Malkovich, for instance, said through a representative that he knows nothing about an account listing his name and conjectured that it might have to do with Bernard Madoff, the former stockbroker convicted of fraud who handled some of his finances. Gennady Timchenko, a billionaire associate of Russian president Vladimir Putin and one of the main targets of sanctions imposed on Russian individuals and businesses in response to the annexation of Crimea and the crisis in eastern Ukraine. The rock star David Bowie responded to ICIJ media partner the Guardian that he has been a legal resident of Switzerland since 1976. The rock star David Bowie responded to ICIJ media partner The Guardian that he has been a legal resident of Switzerland since 1976.

Secret documents reveal that global banking giant HSBC profited from doing business with arms dealers who channeled mortar bombs to child soldiers in Africa, bag men for Third World dictators, traffickers in blood diamonds and other international outlaws.
The leaked files, based on the inner workings of HSBC’s Swiss private banking arm, relate to accounts holding more than $100 billion. They provide a rare glimpse inside the super-secret Swiss banking system — one the public has never seen before.
The documents, obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists via the French newspaper Le Monde, show the bank’s dealings with many clients engaged in a spectrum of illegal behavior, especially in hiding hundreds of millions of dollars from tax authorities.
The bank’s management admitted that standards were not as they should have been in HSBC Geneva, but claiming that new management is working to improve the culture in the Swiss bank.Irish names in HSBC bank’s secret files
‘I paid Revenue what was due, and that was it’, says Dr Michael Cuddy
The HSBC logo seen on a branch in Switzerland. Photograph: Gianluca Colla/BloombergSwiss leaks: Donegal jeweller John Crossan held HSBC account
Records
They also show private records of other clients including famed soccer and tennis players, cyclists, rock stars, Hollywood actors, royalty, politicians, corporate executives and old-wealth families.
These disclosures shine a light on the intersection of international crime and legitimate business, and they dramatically expand what’s known about potentially illegal or unethical behavior in recent years at HSBC, one of the world’s largest banks.
The leaked account records show some clients making trips to Geneva to withdraw large wads of cash, sometimes in used notes. The files also document huge sums of money controlled by dealers in diamonds who are known to have operated in war zones and sold gemstones to finance insurgencies that caused untold deaths.
HSBC, which is headquartered in London and has offices in 74 nations and territories on six continents, at first insisted that ICIJ destroy the data.
Late last month, after being informed of the full extent of the reporting team’s findings, HSBC gave a final response that was more conciliatory, telling ICIJ: “We acknowledge that the compliance culture and standards of due diligence in HSBC’s Swiss private bank, as well as the industry in general, were significantly lower than they are today.”
The written statement said the bank had “taken significant steps over the past several years to implement reforms and exit clients who did not meet strict new HSBC standards, including those where we had concerns in relation to tax compliance.”
The bank added that it had refocused this part of its business. “As a result of this repositioning, HSBC’s Swiss private bank has reduced its client base by almost 70 per cent since 2007.”
How the offshore banking industry shelters money and hides secrets has enormous implications for societies across the globe. Academics conservatively estimate that $7.6 trillion is held in overseas tax havens, costing government treasuries at least $200 billion a year.
“The offshore industry is a major threat for our democratic institutions and our basic social contract,” French economist Thomas Piketty, author of Capital in the Twenty-First Century told ICIJ.
“Financial opacity is one of the key drivers of rising global inequality. It allows a large fraction of top income and top wealth groups to pay negligible tax rates, while the rest of us pay large taxes in order to finance the public goods and services (education, health, infrastructures) that are indispensable for the development process.”
Tax tactics
The secret files obtained by ICIJ – covering accounts up to 2007 associated with more than 100,000 individuals and legal entities from more than 200 nations – are a version of the ones the French government obtained and shared with other governments in 2010, leading to prosecutions or settlements with individuals for tax evasion in several countries. Nations whose tax authorities received the French files include the US, Spain, Italy, Greece, Germany, Britain, Ireland, India, Belgium and Argentina.
It’s not illegal in most countries to maintain offshore bank accounts, and being identified as holding an HSBC Private Bank account is of itself no indication of any wrongdoing.
Some who are named in the files may have had some connection to a Swiss bank account, such as a power of attorney, while not owning the money in the account, or owning only a share of it. Others in the files may not even have had a Swiss bank account.
Hollywood actor John Malkovich, for instance, said through a representative that he knows nothing about an account listing his name and conjectured that it might have to do with Bernard Madoff, the former stockbroker convicted of fraud who handled some of his finances.
A representative for the British actress Joan Collins told ICIJ: “In 1993 my client deposited funds into a bank account in London and subsequently discovered that, without her instructions, the money had been transferred to the Swiss account referred to in your letter.” The representative added that no tax was avoided.
The rock star David Bowie responded to ICIJ media partner The Guardian that he has been a legal resident of Switzerland since 1976. Tina Turner, though seen by many as a quintessentially American singer, has lived in Switzerland for nearly two decades and gave up her US citizenship in 2013.
In many instances though the records do describe questionable behavior, such as bankers advising clients on how to take a range of measures to avoid paying taxes in their home countries – and customers telling bankers that their accounts are not declared to their governments.
Lax controls
The reporting by ICIJ and a team of media organisations from 45 countries go deeper into the dark corners of HSBC than a 2012 US Senate investigation, which found that the bank had lax controls that allowed Latin American drug cartels to launder hundreds of millions of ill-gotten dollars through its US operations, rendering the dirty money usable.
The senate permanent subcommittee on Investigations’ extensive report on HSBC also said some bank affiliates skirted U.S. government bans against financial transactions with Iran and other countries. And HSBC’s US division provided money and banking services to banks in Saudi Arabia and Bangladesh believed to have helped fund Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, the report said.
Later in 2012, HSBC agreed to pay more than $1.9 billion to settle US criminal and civil investigations and entered into a five-year deferred-prosecution agreement.
A subcommittee staff source said senate investigators had requested the HSBC Private Bank account records obtained by ICIJ and been refused by the bank’s management. The new documents show the bank’s activity in many other parts of the world and reveal a new range of questionable clients and actions by the bank.
The ICIJ revelations also come after the Wall Street Journal reported in January that a progress report by the independent monitor appointed to the bank, a synopsis of which is expected to be made public in April, will show HSBC is failing in its attempts to reform.
International cast
The documents obtained by ICIJ are based on data originally smuggled away by a former HSBC employee-turned-whistleblower, Hervé Falciani, and handed to French authorities in 2008. Le Monde obtained material from the French tax authority investigation into the files and then shared the French tax authority’s material with ICIJ with the agreement that ICIJ would pull together a team of journalists from multiple countries that could sift through the data from all angles.
ICIJ enlisted more than 140 journalists from 45 countries, including reporters from Le Monde, The Irish Times, the BBC, the Guardian, 60 Minutes, Süddeutsche Zeitung and more than 45 other media organisations.
The reporters found the names of current and former politicians from Britain, Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Kenya, Romania, India, Liechtenstein, Mexico, Tunisia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Paraguay, Djibouti, Senegal, the Philippines and Algeria, among others.
They found several people on the current US sanctions list, such as Selim Alguadis, a Turkish businessman alleged to have supplied sophisticated electrical goods to Libya’s secret nuclear weapons project, and Gennady Timchenko, a billionaire associate of Russian president Vladimir Putin and one of the main targets of sanctions imposed on Russian individuals and businesses in response to the annexation of Crimea and the crisis in eastern Ukraine.
The files do not state either Mr Alguadis’ or Mr Timchenko’s exact roles in relation to the Swiss accounts. A spokesman for Mr Timchenko said the reasons for the sanctions were “far-fetched and deeply flawed” and that his client has “always been fully compliant with all tax related matters”.
Some clients linked to millions and sometimes tens of millions of dollars in their accounts are politically-connected figures such as Rachid Mohamed Rachid, the former Egyptian trade minister who fled Cairo in February 2011 amid the uprising against Hosni Mubarak. Mr Rachid, who is listed as having power of attorney over an account worth $31 million, was convicted in absentia for alleged profiteering and squandering public funds.
Other names in the files include the late Frantz Merceron, the alleged bagman for the late former Haitian president Jean Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, who was accused of having looted up to $900 million before fleeing his country, and Rami Makhlouf, whose cousin and close associate, Syrian president Bashar al Assad, over the past three years has helped cause the deaths of tens of thousands of his citizens in the country’s civil war. Mr Merceron is listed as an attorney on a $1.3 million account belonging to his wife. Mr Makhlouf is listed as a beneficial owner on multiple accounts.
Legal procedings
The files feature people who figure in legal proceedings, such as Vladimir Antonov, the former owner of an English soccer club, Portsmouth FC, who faces trial in Lithuania over an alleged €500 million bank fraud; Margulan Seisembayev, a Kazakh banker accused by the Alliance Bank of looting its assets and Tancred Tabone, the former head of the Malta state oil company Enemalta, who is facing prosecution for allegedly demanding bribes.
In a statement, Mr Tabone’s lawyer said his client denies all charges and added that he “has formally authorised the Swiss authorities to provide all that information. … His fiscal affairs in that respect are in order” .
Mr Antonov is listed as a beneficial owner on an account worth $65 million. Seisembayev is listed as beneficial owner of multiple accounts. A representative told ICIJ reporting partner the Guardian, “Mr.Antonov is not and was never a tax resident in the UK. He opened the Swiss accounts you refer to in 2008 for business reasons and because Swiss banks provide a better level of client care and are much more flexible than any UK banks.”
Variety of names
In a reflection of the sheer variety of names in the data, others who appear are Li Xiaolin, the daughter of former Chinese premier Li Peng, famous for his role in the Tiananmen Square massacre; Joseph Fok, a judge on Hong Kong’s highest court, and prince and princess Michael of Kent, the cousin of Queen Elizabeth II of England and his wife.
The account that can be linked to the prince and princess was held in the name of their company, Cantium Services Limited. A representative for the couple said the account “never received nor held any funds” and was closed in 2009. Li Xiaolin is listed, along with her husband, as a beneficial owner of an account that held $2.5 million. Mr Fok is listed as the holder of an account that was closed in 2002. They did not respond to requests for comment.
The files reflect a spectrum of royalty, from King Mohammed VI of Morocco to the Crown prince of Bahrain, Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, to dozens of members of Saudi Arabia’s ruling family. Many were partial or full beneficial owners of accounts. The role of the King of Morocco was not specified.
Business figures and political donors from the US. include the financier and philanthropist S. Donald Sussman, whose account predated his marriage to Democratic congresswoman Chellie Pingree of Maine; the billionaire owner of the Victoria’s Secret lingerie chain, Les Wexner, who in 2012 donated $250,000 to a super PAC supporting former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney; and the Israeli diamond-dealing Steinmetz family.
The Wall Street Journal reported in 2007 that the Steinmetz family’s venture capital firm Sage Capital Growth paid generous allowances for speeches and other services to Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor lauded as an organized crime and corruption fighter who later unsuccessfully pursued the Republican presidential nomination.
A representative of Mr Sussman said the account was not his, adding that he had made a passive investment in a technology venture fund. The representative said it was this fund that had the account, the existence of which he learned for the first time when questioned by ICIJ. “Mr Sussman’s investments were minority interests,” the spokesman said, “and he had no involvement in the funds’ management, investment decisions, or other activities.”
Neither Mr Wexner nor the Steinmetz family responded to requests for comment.
An analysis of the files by ICIJ shows that many individuals linked to accounts took extra precautions to protect their identities, even though HSBC staff repeatedly assured customers they were already bound by tight Swiss banking secrecy.
Tax havens
Many of the accounts were held by companies in offshore tax havens such as the British Virgin Islands, Panama or in the remote Pacific island of Niue, rather than by the individuals who owned the money. Thousands more used de-identified, numbered accounts.
In the documents an HSBC employee refers to one of Australia’s most prominent corporate figures, Charles Barrington Goode, by his initials.
“Acct holder Mr. Ch.B.G. would like to be called Mr. Shaw (acct heading). So the entire discussion we were speaking about Mr. Shaw,” the staff member wrote in one document. Mr Goode’s account was held under the name “SHAW99.”
At the time of the note, Goode was the chairman of ANZ bank, one of Australia’s biggest. In his other role in politics, Goode was called by a senator during debate in the Australian parliament in 2001 “a man who is the bag carrier, the fundraiser, for the Liberal party,” the current ruling party of the Australian prime minister, Tony Abbott.
Two foundations that Goode has been publicly associated with in Australia – The Cormack Foundation and Valpold Pty Ltd – gave more than Aus$30 million to the Victoria branch of the Liberal Party between 1998 and 2013, according to filings with the Australian Electoral Commission.
Goode told ICIJ that he opened his account 30 years ago and the bank insisted he use a pseudonym. “The bank officer told me that, for security purposes, I needed a name, other than my own name, or a number, to identify the account and which I should use in communicating with the bank. I chose the name ‘Shaw.’ ” Mr Goode said “the account was dormant for about 25 years” and that before he closed the account five years ago he had declared it to Australian tax authorities and paid tax on any income he derived.
New questions
The documents raise new questions about past public statements by HSBC that staff did not help customers engage in tax evasion. In July 2008, for example, Chris Meares, the then head of private banking for HSBC, told a British parliamentary hearing: “We prohibit our bankers from encouraging or being involved in tax evasion.”
Three years earlier one wealthy British client, Keith Humphreys, a director of the English Premier League soccer club Stoke City FC, is described telling his HSBC manager that one of his family’s Swiss accounts was “not declared” to the UK tax authorities. The files state it held more than $450,000 at the time.
Mr Humphreys told ICIJ media partner, the Guardian, that the Swiss account was held not by him but by his father and that it was later voluntarily disclosed to authorities. The account, he said, “was established in line with financial advice that he was given at the time” and disclosed to British tax authorities in 2011, with a settlement of £147,165.
In another instance, an HSBC employee wrote this note in the file of Irish businessman John Cashell, who would later plead guilty to three counts of filing incorrect income tax returns – in 2001, 2002, and 2003 – with regard to undeclared interest on offshore accounts containing almost €800,000.
“His pre-occupation is with the risk of disclosure to the Irish authorities. Once again I endeavoured to reassure him that there is no risk of that happening.” Mr Cashell did not respond to requests for comment.
Uneasy
The bank itself became uneasy over a €20 million transaction by a Serbian businessman. But the bank employees merely asked him to act less conspicuously: “Explained that as per today the bank did not interfered [SIC]in his money transfer transactions,” the relevant document says, “but would have preferred to reduce those activities on a lower scale. [HE]understands our concerns and will use smaller amounts.”
HSBC staff also appeared to show little concern at the description they received of a Canadian doctor, Irwin Rodier. “This client is somwhat [SIC]paranoid, e.g. whenever he was coming to ZH [ZURICH], he flew to Paris and hired a car to drive to ZH, in order not to re-enact his final destination etc.”
Rodier told ICIJ media partner CBC/Radio-Canada that he had since settled his taxes with Canadian authorities.
In its statement to ICIJ, HSBC said: “In the past, the Swiss private banking industry operated very differently to the way it does today. Private banks, including HSBC’s Swiss private bank, assumed that responsibility for payment of taxes rested with individual clients, rather than the institutions that banked them.”
Tax on savings
The files show that some European customers were given advice on how to avoid a withholding tax on bank savings that came into effect in European Union countries in 2005. Switzerland had agreed to implement the tax – called the European Savings Directive, or ESD.
But the ESD pertained only to individuals, not to corporations. The files show HSBC Private Bank seized on this loophole to market products that transformed individuals into corporations for tax-reporting purposes.
The documents record that day by day throughout 2005, clients arrived in Switzerland to make cash withdrawals in British pounds, Euros, Swiss francs, US dollars, even Danish krone – sometimes asking for small used notes.
One of those being provided with cash supplies of dollars and euros was Arturo del Tiempo Marques, a property developer sentenced in 2013 to a seven-year jail sentence in Spain for smuggling cocaine. He controlled up to 19 HSBC accounts containing more than $3 million. He did not respond to requests for comment.
In one transaction, the British business tycoon Richard Caring, accompanied by security, was depicted in September 2005 collecting more than five million Swiss francs in cash.
HSBC staff explained handing Caring the huge sum of cash by quoting a statement by him that he planned to deposit the cash with another Swiss bank, and did not want either bank to be aware of the other. They wrote: “RC goes to great lengths to maintain discretion.”
A representative of Caring told the Guardian that he did not avoid taxes and that his “use of offshore funds was conducted under widely used and accepted tax principles.”
The files show Caring, a major donor to British politics, transferring $1 million to the Clinton Foundation, a nonprofit set up by the former US president Bill Clinton with the stated mission to “strengthen the capacity of people in the United States and throughout the world to meet the challenges of global interdependence” .
The donation to the Clinton Foundation was requested in December 2005. The previous month, Mr Caring funded a champagne and caviar extravaganza at Catherine the Great’s Winter Palace in St Petersburg, Russia, flying in 450 guests to be entertained by Sir Elton John and Tina Turner and addressed by Bill Clinton. The event raised more than £11 million for a children’s charity.
Donors
A number of other prominent donors to the Clinton Foundation appear in the files, including the Canadian businessman Frank Giustra and German motor racing superstar Michael Schumacher, a seven-time Formula One champion. A representative of Schumacher, who is listed as a beneficial owner of an account closed in 2002, told ICIJ that he is a long-term resident of Switzerland.
The records show Giustra is the only person listed in an HSBC account holding more than $10 million in 2006/2007, although his role in the account is not specified
The New York Times reported in 2008 that Giustra donated to the Clinton Foundation shortly after Bill Clinton accompanied Giustra on a trip to Kazakhstan in 2005. When they landed, Nursultan A. Nazarbayev, who has served for decades as Kazakhstan’s president, met his two visitors over a sumptuous midnight banquet.
The Times reported that Mr Clinton made a public declaration of support for Nazarbayev that was at odds with the stance of the US government and of Clinton’s wife, then-senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, who had criticized Kazakhstan’s record on human rights. Two days later, corporate records showed, Mr Giustra’s company won the right to buy into three state-owned uranium projects in Kazakhstan.
Both Clinton and Mr Giustra told the New York Times that Mr Giustra traveled with Mr Clinton to Kazakhstan to see first-hand the foundation’s philanthropic work. A spokesman for Mr Clinton told the newspaper that the former president was generally aware of Mr Giustra’s mining interests in Kazakhstan but did nothing to help those interests.
A spokesman for the Clinton Foundation told the Guardian it “has strong donor integrity and transparency practices that go well beyond what is required of US charities, including the full disclosure of all of our donors.”
Investigations
The data shared by French authorities with other governments is now the basis of formal investigations in several countries. French magistrates are examining whether the bank helped some clients avoid paying 2006 and 2007 taxes. French authorities have required HSBC to deposit a bail bond of €50 million. Belgian prosecutors late last year also accused the bank of tax fraud.
In August 2014, Argentine tax agents raided HSBC’s offices in Buenos Aires. The Buenos Aires Herald has reported that Argentine tax chief Ricardo Echegaray has accused HSBC of “rolling out a fraud-enabling platform” as “a maneuver to hide bank account information from tax collectors”.
HSBC said in its statement to ICIJ that it was “fully committed to the exchange of information with relevant authorities” and was “actively pursuing measures that ensure clients are tax transparent, even in advance of a regulatory or legal requirement to do so. We are also cooperating with relevant authorities investigating these matters.”
The documents raise questions about why there were investigations in some countries and not in others – and whether some investigations were less than painstaking.
For instance, some of the most extensive material relates to the bank’s UK clients. Initial investigations by French tax authorities identified more than 5,000 British clients linked to $61 billion in HSBC deposits – more clients and more money than from any other country.
Though the French investigators likely initially over-estimated the true amounts held by clients, the British tax office concluded that 3,600 of the 5,000 names it received from the French in 2010 were “potentially non-compliant.” A report to a House of Commons committee in September 2014 said the tax office had recovered just £135 million in back taxes from individuals on the list, compared to £220 million collected by Spain and £188 million collected by France.
Lord Stephen Green, the head of HSBC during the period the records cover, later became trade minister in the Cameron government in Britain, a position he held until 2013.
Apart from isolated court cases in US federal courts, it appears that the US Internal Revenue Service has also gone about its work quietly despite French tax investigators having identified 1,400 people with US connections, holding some $16 billion. Again, that figure was higher than the amounts identified by ICIJ.
The IRS
In a statement to ICIJ media partner 60 Minutes, the IRS said that since US taxpayers were first encouraged to voluntarily come forward with details of their offshore holdings in 2009, “there have been more than 50,000 disclosures and we have collected more than $7 billion from this initiative alone” .
The agency declined to disclose how many, if any, of those who came forward had accounts with HSBC.
What happened after France sent Greece the names of more than 2,000 Greek HSBC clients touched off a furore that now has Greece’s former finance minister facing trial.
Greece received the names in 2010, but nothing happened until October 2012, when a Greek magazine, Hot Doc, published the names and noted the lack of an investigation into whether rich Greeks were evading taxes while the country was undergoing austerity measures, including pay cuts and tax increases for those who paid.
In contrast to the reluctance with which they had gone after possible tax evasion, Greek authorities were quick to arrest Hot Doc editor Kostas Vaxevanis and charge him with violating privacy laws.
He was quickly acquitted, and his trial provoked anger when two former heads of the financial police testified that neither the former finance minister Giorgos Papakonstantinou nor his successor had ordered an investigation into the list. Mr Papakonstantinou said it had been lost.
When the list finally surfaced, it was missing the names of three relatives of Mr Papakonstantinou. He now faces criminal charges alleging breach of trust, doctoring an official document and dereliction of duty growing out of the removal of his relatives’ names and out of his failure to act on the list when he received it.
Arms dealers
HSBC kept Aziza Kulsum and her family as clients even after Kulsum was named by the United Nations as financing the bloody Burundian civil war in the1990s.
The 2001 United Nations report also said that Ms Kulsum was a key player in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the illicit trade in coltan, a strategically important mineral used in electronic devices. A big part of the world’s supply of coltan comes from conflict zones in Central Africa, where armed factions control many mines, extort miners and profit from the sale of illegal ore.
While two of Kulsum’s accounts were closed before 2001, a third account worth $3.2 million was frozen (though not closed) for unspecified “compliance reasons” at an unknown date. Ms Kulsum’s husband had an unspecified connection to a further account that was not closed and held an additional $1.6 million at one point in 2006/2007. HSBC referred to Kulsum as a “businesswoman (stone and noble metals)” and the owner of a cigarette factory.
Another questionable account appears under the name of Katex Mines Guinee. According to a 2003 report by the United Nations, Katex Mines was a front company used by Guinea’s ministry of defense to traffic arms to rebel soldiers in Liberia during fighting in 2003.
Inexperienced child soldiers were fighting on both sides; hundreds of people were killed and more than 2,000 were injured. The account is shown with $7.14 million in it three years after UN reports about Katex Mines were made public.
Other notes show HSBC staff meeting a customer, Shailesh Vithlani, in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in 2005, to advise him how best to invest his money. The Guardian reported in 2007 that Vithlani, who is listed as a beneficial owner of one account, was an alleged middleman who arranged for the British arms company BAE to secretly pay $12 million into an unspecified Swiss bank account in return for the Tanzanian government buying an overpriced military radar system. Mr Vithlani, who could not be reached for comment, told the Guardian in 2007 that he did not pay money from Switzerland to officials in Tanzania.
Fraud office
Another HSBC customer linked to BAE was Fana Hlongwane, a South African political adviser and businessman. The UK Serious Fraud Office said in statements submitted to South African prosecutors in 2008 that Mr Hlongwane received money from BAE through a disguised chain of offshore intermediaries in order to promote arms deals.
Mr Hlongwane’s lawyers did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
In a 2014 affidavit made to an ongoing inquiry into the arms contracts, Mr Hlongwane denied “any evidence implicating myself and/or my Companies in any corruption or wrongdoing.”
Mr Hlongwane is listed as the beneficial owner of an account, Leynier Finance SA, that contained $888,000. Two other accounts that held $12 million at one point in 2006/2007 do not specify his exact role.
Another account holder appears to be linked to the so-called Angolagate scandal.
In 2008, French prosecutors began proceedings against more than 40 people implicated in corrupted arms sales to Angola in the 1990s. The scandal, which was alleged to have involved more than $50 million in bribes exchanged for contracts worth nearly $800 million, named high-profile French figures, including the son of former French President Francois Mitterrand.
The account likely linked to Angolagate was dubbed Corday and was open from 1994 to 1999. Manuel’s exact role with the account was not specified.
Corday is the name on a series of accounts at HSBC and other banks that have been publicly linked to Yves Manuel who also held an account with HSBC and who died following a conviction for his role in the scandal.
A French court ruling in October 2011 said Yves Manuel received and concealed $2.59 million that he knew had come from the company that disbursed bribes to French and Angolan officials. She did not respond to requests for comment.
Yet another account can be found under the name Wang Chia-Hsing, the son of the alleged middleman in an infamous Taiwan arms deal, Andrew Wang Chuan-pu.
Wang Chuan-pu is a fugitive wanted in Taiwan over his alleged role in the murder of Taiwanese Navy Capt. Yin Ching-feng and a series of kickback and corruption scandals implicating Taiwan, France and China.
The South China Morning Post reported that Wang Chuan-pu left Taiwan shortly after the body of Yin – who was about to blow the whistle on alleged kickbacks and corruption in the navy’s purchase of six French frigates – was found floating off the island’s north coast in December 1993.
The HSBC documents show conversations between Wang Chia-Hsing, who is described as an interior decorator and shown with an upmarket London address, and HSBC staff even during a period when the account with more than $38 million was under a court blocking order.
The files do not make clear what Wang Chia-Hsing’s exact role in the account was. However, the files record that he asked the bank to recognize his non-domicile residency status in the UK, a reference to a foreign national living in the UK who doesn’t pay income tax or capital gains tax on earnings abroad. It is generally regarded as a form of legal tax avoidance. The bank’s notes further indicate that a HSBC staff member was willing to backdate a form.
A representative for Wang Chia-Hsing said he has “paid all proper taxes due and has not acted in any way improperly or unlawfully.”
Blood Diamonds
An analysis by ICIJ shows that almost 2,000 of HSBC clients who appear in the files are associated with the diamond industry. Among them is Emmanuel Shallop, who was subsequently convicted of dealing in blood diamonds.
Blood diamonds, or conflict diamonds, are terms used for gems mined in war zones that are later sold to finance further war. Diamonds mined during the recent civil wars in Angola, Cote d’Ivoire, Sierra Leone and other nations have been given the label.
“Diamonds have a long history of being linked to conflict and violence,” said Michael Gibb of the international human rights group Global Witness. “The ease with which diamonds can be converted into tools of war, when not sourced responsibly, is astonishing.”
The documents show that HSBC was aware that Mr Shallop was under investigation by Belgian authorities at the time it was helping him. “We have opened a company account for him based in Dubai. … The client is very cautious currently because he is under pressure from the Belgian tax authorities, who are investigating his activities in the area of diamond fiscal fraud.”
Mr Shallop’s lawyer told ICIJ, “We dot [SIC]not want to give any comment on this issue. My client does not want his name to be mentioned in any article because of reasons of privacy.”
Other HSBC account holders can be linked to Omega Diamonds, which in 2013 was fined $195 million for tax evasion in Belgium. The company agreed to pay the fine but did not admit liability. Belgian authorities alleged that Omega shifted profits into Dubai by trading falsely valued diamonds from mines in Congo and Angola.
During the period of these alleged transactions, the firm’s two principals, Ehud Arye Laniado and Sylvain Goldberg, each had HSBC accounts. A third Omega director, Robert Liling, appears in the files as the owner of several accounts.
Mr Liling could not be reached for comment. A spokesperson for MrLaniado and Mr Goldberg said neither was prosecuted for tax offences. “The tax dispute between Omega Diamonds and the Belgian tax authorities was settled in an amicable civil settlement.”

Links to Al Qaeda?
HSBC’s clients’ links to Al Qaeda were first publicly raised in the July 2012 US Senate report, which cited an alleged internal Al Qaeda list of financial benefactors.
The senate report said the list came to light after a search of the Bosnian offices of the Benevolence International Foundation, a Saudi-based nonprofit organization that the US Treasury Department has designated as a terrorist organization.
Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks, referred to the handwritten list of the 20 names as the “Golden Chain.”
From the moment the names on the Golden Chain list were made public in news reports in the spring of 2003, the Senate subcommittee stated that HSBC should have been “on notice” and aware these powerful business figures were high risk clients.
Though the significance of the Golden Chain list has since been questioned, the ICIJ found what appear to be three Golden Chain names with HSBC Swiss accounts that existed after that date.
Interpol list
People on the Most Wanted list of Interpol, the international police agency, such as the diamond dealers Mozes Victor Konig and Kenneth Lee Akselrod, are among the HSBC account holders – and so is Elias Murr, who is president of the board of Interpol’s Foundation for a Safer World, an organisation aimed at fighting terrorism and organised crime. Murr, who was a prominent businessman before entering politics, was interior minister of Lebanon in 2004 when an HSBC account owned by him was held through a company called Callorford Investments Limited. By 2006-2007, the account would contain $42 million.
A spokesman for Murr said his client’s wealth and that of his family is public knowledge, and his family has held accounts in Switzerland since before he was born. The account was not connected to his political role. “It is not illegal and it is not suspicious that a Lebanese national opens and holds accounts anywhere.”

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http://utangente.free.fr/2003/media2003.pdf
"The maintenance of secrets acts like a psychic poison which alienates the possessor from the community" Carl Jung
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TonyGosling
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2015 10:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Peter Oborne: why I resigned from the Telegraph
http://www.channel4.com/news/peter-oborne-telegraph-resignation-barcla y-brothers

Former Telegraph chief political commentator Peter Oborne explains to Jon Snow why he took the decision to step down from the leading broadsheet newspaper.
http://www.channel4.com/news/catch-up/display/playlistref/170215/clipi d/170215_4on_oborn_17

Mr Oborne told Channel 4 News that the newspaper "needs to explain to us why its coverage of HSBC has been skewed".

In an exclusive interview with Jon Snow, he alleged that there was a "pattern... It's been going on for more than two years, where nothing unfavourable of any substance has been written about HSBC."

In his resignation letter, Mr Oborne had claimed that the Telegraph's coverage of the bank was "influenced by advertising."

'Advertising solutions'
In a statement, the Telegraph denied that its coverage of HSBC was influenced by commercial relationships.

A Telegraph spokesperson said: ""Like any other business, we never comment on individual commercial relationships, but our policy is absolutely clear.

"We aim to provide all our commercial partners with a range of advertising solutions, but the distinction between advertising and our award-winning editorial operation has always been fundamental to our business.

"We utterly refute any allegation to the contrary."

'Great privilege'
Mr Oborne joined the newspaper in May 2010, a year after the Telegraph released its award-winning coverage of the MPs' expenses scandal.

He told Channel 4 News: "I felt so proud to write for the Daily Telegraph."

The Telegraph said: "It is a matter of huge regret that Peter Oborne, for nearly five years a contributor to the Telegraph, should have launched such an astonishing and unfounded attack, full of inaccuracy and innuendo, on his own paper."

_________________
www.rethink911.org
www.actorsandartistsfor911truth.org
www.mediafor911truth.org
www.pilotsfor911truth.org
www.mp911truth.org
www.ae911truth.org
www.rl911truth.org
www.stj911.org
www.l911t.com
www.v911t.org
www.thisweek.org.uk
www.abolishwar.org.uk
www.elementary.org.uk
www.radio4all.net/index.php/contributor/2149
http://utangente.free.fr/2003/media2003.pdf
"The maintenance of secrets acts like a psychic poison which alienates the possessor from the community" Carl Jung
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2015 11:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Article Telegraph removed & Peter Oborne complained about is here

HSBC faces £70bn capital hole, warn Hong Kong analysts
http://www.housepricecrash.co.uk/forum/index.php?/topic/196069-hsbc-fa ces-l70bn-capital-hole-warn-hong-kong-analysts/

Research firm Forensic Asia calculates that HSBC has overstated the value of the assets on its balance sheet by more than £50bn

HSBC could have overstated its assets by more than £50bn and ultimately need a capital injection of close to £70bn before the end of this decade, according to an incendiaryreport published by a Hong Kong-based research firm.Forensic Asia on Tuesday began its coverage of Britain’s largest banking group with a ‘sell’ recommendation, warning the lender had between $63.6bn (£38.7bn) and $92.3bn of “questionable assets” on its balance sheet, ranging from loan loss reserves and accrued interest to deferred tax assets, defined benefit pension schemes and opaque Level 3 assets.

The broker’s note is written by two of its senior analysts, Thomas Monaco and Andrew Haskins.

Mr Monaco is a former senior bank examiner at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and previously worked as a fund manager at FrontPoint Partners, the hedge fund that spotted the US subprime bubble. As well as this, he has also spent a decade as a banks analyst at various leading investment banks.

Mr Haskins previously worked at HSBC for 15 years, mainly as a telecoms analyst, and also co-ran Japanese bank Mitsubishi UFJ’s Hong Kong-based research team.

In the report, the analysts apply what they describe as a “moderate stress test” to the balance sheets of HSBC’s major subsidiaries. From this analysis they conclude that even using a low-end estimate, the assets of the bank’s Hong Kong division, for instance, are overstated by about $15bn, while those of its UK subsidiary could be overvalued by $17bn.

Taking the analysis further, the report sets out the impact of incoming Basel III capital rules and says HSBC could be required at a minimum to raise close to $60bn in new capital by 2019 and potentially as much as $111bn.

“In our view, HSBC has not made the necessary adjustments, during the quantitative easing reprieve. Rather, it has allowed legacy problems to linger as new ones in emerging markets gather pace. The result has been extreme earnings overstatement, causing HSBC to become one of the largest practitioners of capital forebearance globally. This charade appears to be ending, given how few earnings levers remain besides selling off core elements of the franchise and the stringencies of Basel III compliance,” wrote Forensic Asia.

The broker adds: “While having stated capital ratios well above peer averages is all well and good, HSBC’s stated capital ratios would appear to be nothing more than a mirage if our analysis is correct.”

Even under current capital rules, Forensic Asia estimates that its valuations of HSBC’s group and subsidiary balance sheets suggests the bank has a current capital shortfall of $45.1bn.

The report adds the workings do not include probable litigation costs linked to various claims on the bank, which they see coming in at no less than $10bn.

HSBC, Britain’s biggest bank by market capitalisation and total assets, is also reckoned to be the UK’s best capitalised major lender, with a tier 1 ratio of 12.8pc, well above the minimum required by the Prudential Regulation Authority.


HSBC declined to comment.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 21, 2015 2:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here;s the article the telegraph pulled
£70bn fraud - oh queen elizabeth - what a bloody mess you've made


HSBC faces £70bn capital hole, warn Hong Kong analysts
http://www.housepricecrash.co.uk/forum/index.php?/topic/196069-hsbc-fa ces-l70bn-capital-hole-warn-hong-kong-analysts/

Research firm Forensic Asia calculates that HSBC has overstated the value of the assets on its balance sheet by more than £50bn

HSBC could have overstated its assets by more than £50bn and ultimately need a capital injection of close to £70bn before the end of this decade, according to an incendiaryreport published by a Hong Kong-based research firm.Forensic Asia on Tuesday began its coverage of Britain’s largest banking group with a ‘sell’ recommendation, warning the lender had between $63.6bn (£38.7bn) and $92.3bn of “questionable assets” on its balance sheet, ranging from loan loss reserves and accrued interest to deferred tax assets, defined benefit pension schemes and opaque Level 3 assets.

The broker’s note is written by two of its senior analysts, Thomas Monaco and Andrew Haskins.

Mr Monaco is a former senior bank examiner at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and previously worked as a fund manager at FrontPoint Partners, the hedge fund that spotted the US subprime bubble. As well as this, he has also spent a decade as a banks analyst at various leading investment banks.

Mr Haskins previously worked at HSBC for 15 years, mainly as a telecoms analyst, and also co-ran Japanese bank Mitsubishi UFJ’s Hong Kong-based research team.

In the report, the analysts apply what they describe as a “moderate stress test” to the balance sheets of HSBC’s major subsidiaries. From this analysis they conclude that even using a low-end estimate, the assets of the bank’s Hong Kong division, for instance, are overstated by about $15bn, while those of its UK subsidiary could be overvalued by $17bn.

Taking the analysis further, the report sets out the impact of incoming Basel III capital rules and says HSBC could be required at a minimum to raise close to $60bn in new capital by 2019 and potentially as much as $111bn.

“In our view, HSBC has not made the necessary adjustments, during the quantitative easing reprieve. Rather, it has allowed legacy problems to linger as new ones in emerging markets gather pace. The result has been extreme earnings overstatement, causing HSBC to become one of the largest practitioners of capital forebearance globally. This charade appears to be ending, given how few earnings levers remain besides selling off core elements of the franchise and the stringencies of Basel III compliance,” wrote Forensic Asia.

The broker adds: “While having stated capital ratios well above peer averages is all well and good, HSBC’s stated capital ratios would appear to be nothing more than a mirage if our analysis is correct.”

Even under current capital rules, Forensic Asia estimates that its valuations of HSBC’s group and subsidiary balance sheets suggests the bank has a current capital shortfall of $45.1bn.

The report adds the workings do not include probable litigation costs linked to various claims on the bank, which they see coming in at no less than $10bn.

HSBC, Britain’s biggest bank by market capitalisation and total assets, is also reckoned to be the UK’s best capitalised major lender, with a tier 1 ratio of 12.8pc, well above the minimum required by the Prudential Regulation Authority.

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 21, 2015 9:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Telegraph owners' £250m HSBC loan raises fresh questions over coverage
Barclay brothers secured loan for loss-making company shortly before Telegraph reporters were allegedly discouraged from running articles critical of HSBC
Simon Bowers - Thursday 19 February 2015 18.51 GMT
Last modified on Friday 20 February 2015 00.25 GMT
http://www.911forum.org.uk/board/posting.php?mode=reply&t=21960

The owners of the Daily Telegraph secured a £250m loan from HSBC for a struggling corner of their business empire shortly before the newspaper’s reporters were allegedly “discouraged” from running articles critical of the bank, the Guardian has learned.

The timing of the loan deal for Yodel, a loss-making parcel delivery firm owned by the Barclay brothers, raises fresh questions over the influence of commercial considerations on the Telegraph’s editorial coverage of HSBC.

The deal was completed on 14 December 2012, company documents show. The paper’s former chief political commentator Peter Oborne alleged this week that there was a sea change in its editorial treatment of the bank from early 2013.

The documents show that Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay had to formally give a personal financial guarantee as additional security for the loan facility.

The paper’s editorial judgment over HSBC has been called into question this week by Oborne, who accused the paper of a “fraud on its readers” in an excoriating resignation statement.

Specifically, he claims that the Telegraph’s coverage of the bank changed abruptly just over two years ago. “From the start of 2013 onwards stories critical of HSBC were discouraged,” he said.


Peter Oborne: what I have seen is unprecedented in a quality newspaper
Read more
Yodel refinanced in mid-December 2012 with Europe’s biggest bank. As security, the bank took a charge over almost all the Yodel business - meaning the bank could take control of the parcel delivery group should the latter breach its borrowing commitments.

The new HSBC loan was used to repay previous borrowings from Lloyds Banking Group. The Yodel business made a loss of £112m for the year to 30 June 2013. Yodel filings show an outstanding amount of £242m was due on the HSBC loan at the end of June 2013 and there are no filings since then suggesting the debt has been repaid.

Contacted by the Guardian, the Barclay family declined to comment on the loan, but a source close to the family dismissed suggestions that the Telegraph’s coverage could have been influenced by a loan from HSBC. The source also pointed out that the family’s businesses had borrowings with many other banks.

The Barclays camp believe a lot of inaccuracies have been written about them in recent days, though they have not expanded on what these are.

After Oborne: Facts and bad faith in our newspapers
Letters: With a few exceptions our national press operates as a cartel, papers covering up each others’ faults. The result is that uncorrected lies pile up in our public space, polluting debate and warping policymaking
Read more
Oborne parted company with the Telegraph this week, going public, he said, in protest at its coverage of the HSBC scandal. The Telegraph veteran has called for an independent inquiry into the newspaper’s editorial guidelines because of what he sees as a lack of reporting on the HSBC affair. The Guardian, the BBC, Le Monde and 50 other media outlets revealed how the bank’s Swiss banking arm helped wealthy customers dodge taxes and conceal millions of dollars of assets, while circumventing domestic tax authorities.

Revelations about the controversial banking affairs of some of HSBC’s wealthiest clients have dominated headlines across the British media in recent weeks, but featured only fleetingly in the Telegraph, Oborne argues.

Yodel’s directors, who include Sir David Barclay’s sons Aidan and Howard, admit in the firm’s accounts that the parcel delivery trade is “a rapidly changing marketplace”. While that presented opportunities, there were too many suppliers in the industry, leading to “a high degree of competition”.

The accounts show the struggling business was able to qualify as a “going concern” for accounting purposes thanks to the willingness of its Jersey-based parent, another company in the Barclays’ investment empire called LW Corporation, to provide financial support. Companies in Jersey are not required to file accounts.

Earlier this week Oborne claimed that HSBC had suspended its advertising with the Telegraph after it ran an investigation in November 2012 based on leaked details of personal accounts held with HSBC in Jersey.

He also claims that reporters were ordered to destroy all emails, reports and documents related to the HSBC investigation. “This was the pivotal moment,” Oborne wrote.

He attributed the change to an effort to win back advertising. He said he had been told by an extremely well informed insider that HSBC’s advertising spend was extremely valuable. “Winning back the HSBC advertising account became an urgent priority,” Oborne said.

In a statement responding to Oborne’s allegations, a Telegraph spokesperson said it would not comment on individual commercial relationships, but continued: “We aim to provide all our commercial partners with a range of advertising solutions, but the distinction between advertising and our award-winning editorial operation has always been fundamental to our business. We utterly refute any allegation to the contrary.

“It is a matter of huge regret that Peter Oborne, for nearly five years a contributor to the Telegraph, should have launched such an astonishing and unfounded attack, full of inaccuracy and innuendo, on his own paper.”

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2015 12:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

To examine the current money laundering and
terrorist financing threats associated with correspondent banking, the
Subcommittee selected HSBC as a case study.

HSBC Case Study. To examine the current money laundering and
terrorist financing threats associated with correspondent banking, the
Subcommittee selected HSBC as a case study. HSBC is one of the largest
financial institutions in the world, with over $2.5 trillion in assets, 89 million
customers, 300,000 employees, and 2011 profits of nearly $22 billion. HSBC,
whose initials originally stood for Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corporation,
now has operations in over 80 countries, with hundreds of affiliates spanning the
globe. Its parent corporation, HSBC Holdings plc, called “HSBC Group,” is
headquartered in London, and its Chief Executive Officer is located in Hong
Kong.
Its key U.S. affiliate is HSBC Bank USA N.A. (HBUS). HBUS operates
more than 470 bank branches throughout the United States, manages assets
totaling about $200 billion, and serves around 3.8 million customers. It holds a
national bank charter, and its primary regulator is the U.S. Office of the
Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), which is part of the U.S. Treasury
Department. HBUS is headquartered in McLean, Virginia, but has its principal
office in New York City. HSBC acquired its U.S. presence by purchasing
several U.S. financial institutions, including Marine Midland Bank and Republic
National Bank of New York.3
A senior HSBC executive told the Subcommittee that HSBC acquired its U.S.
affiliate, not just to compete with other U.S. banks for U.S. clients, but primarily
to provide a U.S. platform to its non-U.S. clients and to use its U.S. platform as a
selling point to attract still more non-U.S. clients. HSBC operates in many
jurisdictions with weak AML controls, high risk
117-129, 183-187,
http://www.ffiec.gov/bsa_aml_infobase/documents/BSA_AML_Man_2010.pdf. Prior versions
of this Manual were issued in 2005 and 2007.
6 See “International Standards on Combating Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism
& Proliferation:
The FATF Recommendations,” issued by the Financial Action Task Force (2/2012), FATF
Recommendation 13.
clients, and high risk financial activities including Asia, Middle East, and Africa.
Over the past ten years, HSBC has also acquired affiliates throughout Latin
America. In many of these countries, the HSBC affiliate provides correspondent
accounts to foreign financial institutions that, among other services, are
interested in acquiring access to U.S. dollar wire transfers, foreign exchange, and
other services. As a consequence, HSBC’s U.S. affiliate, HBUS, is required to
interact with other HSBC affiliates and foreign financial institutions that face
substantial AML challenges, often operate under weaker AML requirements, and
may not be as familiar with, or respectful of, the tighter AML controls in the
United States. HBUS’ correspondent services, thus, provide policymakers with a
window into the vast array of money laundering and terrorist financing risks
confronting the U.S. affiliates of global banks.
The Subcommittee also examined HSBC because of its weak AML program. In
September 2010, the OCC issued a lengthy Supervisory Letter citing HBUS for
violating federal AML laws, including by maintaining an inadequate AML
program. In October 2010, the OCC issued a Cease and Desist Order requiring
HSBC to strengthen multiple aspects of its AML program.
7 The identified
problems included a once massive backlog of over 17,000 alerts identifying
possible suspicious activity that had yet to be reviewed; ineffective methods for
identifying suspicious activity; a failure to file timely Suspicious Activity
Reports with U.S. law enforcement; a failure to conduct any due diligence to
assess the risks of HSBC affiliates before opening correspondent accounts for
them; a 3-year failure by HBUS, from mid-2006 to mid2009, to conduct any
AML monitoring of $15 billion in bulk cash transactions with those same HSBC
affiliates, despite the risks associated with large cash transactions; poor
procedures for assigning country and client risk ratings; a failure to monitor $60
trillion in annual wire transfer activity by customers domiciled in countries rated
7 On the same day, in coordination with the OCC, the Federal Reserve issued a Cease and Desist
order to HBUS’ holding company, HSBC North America Holdings, Inc

http://www.hsgac.senate.gov/subcommittees/investigations/reports

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 09, 2015 11:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

HSBC: Profits from Draining NHS
Posted by kamsandhu
By Ranjan Kumaran @FinancialEyes
http://linkis.com/wordpress.com/UxUtE

HSBC are being grilled by Margaret Hodge today at the Public Accounts Select Committee on tax and tax avoidance.

HSBC offshoot HICL, based “offshore” in Guernsey are significant owners of UK hospitals via PFI, with 43 projects under ownership based on 2013 Treasury data.

Margaret Hodge has stated that PFI has been a rip off for the taxpayer.

HICL are still based in Guernsey. Their business model is based on overcharging hospitals and avoiding tax.

The 2011 Treasury Select Committee found that: “Treasury could not tell us if PFI companies had paid tax in the UK on profits and on equity gains, or whether corporation taxes had been collected from PFI” [Richard Brooks – The Great Tax Robbery pg 222].

Two Hospitals, Central Middlesex and Chase Farm have since closed their A&E wards (end of 2013) as a result of unsustainable PFI debts.

In 2011 HICL was sold to its directors in a Management Buy Out.

Ex-HSBC directors continue to profit tax-free from UK Hospitals which have closed their A&E wards due to overcharging and lack of funding resulting from rip off HSBC PFI deals.

Click on the image below to see a list of HICL Hospitals.



Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 13.05.09

See attached 2010 HSBC – HICL prospectus by clicking here and offshore corporate structure diagram

Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 12.50.38

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Martin Van Creveld: Let me quote General Moshe Dayan: "Israel must be like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother."
Martin Van Creveld: I'll quote Henry Kissinger: "In campaigns like this the antiterror forces lose, because they don't win, and the rebels win by not losing."
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 10, 2015 8:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This threat, used for decades by Bilderberg types and other globalisation pioneers against Prime Ministers, now writ large in the public domain.
Weird juxtaposition though this.


Has HSBC already decided to leave the UK?
The question now is whether HSBC’s views will influence the Chancellor and Wednesday's Mansion House speech
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/banksandfinance/116637 77/Has-HSBC-already-decided-to-leave-the-UK.html
By Ben Wright8:44PM BST 09 Jun 2015Comments10 Comments
HSBC says it won’t make a decision on whether or not to move the location of its headquarters until the end of the year. That won’t stop everyone from reading between the lines of Tuesday’s strategy presentation in search of clues as to which way the bank is leaning.
HSBC obligingly provided plenty of potential pointers, including the list of 11 criteria upon which it will base its decision.
The majority of them – including the competitiveness of the economies in the prospective home markets and the bank’s ability to hire and retain staff – can probably be marked down as a score draw between London and Hong Kong. But four are worthy of closer scrutiny.
One of these is a definite minus point for Hong Kong, whose long-term stability under China’s aegis is open to question. Another one – the scale of HSBC’s existing presence – potentially counts against the UK: the bank is big in both locations, but is planning to reduce UK headcount by 8,000, while maintaining staff levels in Hong Kong.


​If Jews leave, Europe will face ‘economic disaster’, Jewish leader warns
Published time: March 10, 2015 16:02 Get short URL
http://rt.com/news/239285-europe-economic-disaster-jews/
European leaders should be quick in adopting real measures to counter anti-Semitism or witness Jews leave, taking away their money and businesses, says the President of the European Jewish Congress (ECJ).
The rise of xenophobia and anti-Semitism in Europe has led to many Jewish families pondering escape, ECJ’s Russian-born president Moshe Kantor said.
"This minority is going in case authorities are not delivering some real, real stuff," Kantor told Reuters. "This minority is going to leave Europe, definitely because this question just now in every Jewish family in Europe: to leave or to stay.”
A Jewish organization which collects data on anti-Semitism, Community Security Trust (CST), reported last months that Britain’s Jewish community suffered its highest number of anti-Semitic incidents on record last year - 1,168 - primarily due to the conflict in Gaza.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 23, 2015 1:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

UBS/HSBC as terror kingpns: Susan Lindauer 20Jun15 THE COMMERCE OF TERRORISM
Sunday, 21 June, 2015 12:05 Mark as Unread

From:
WHISTLEBLOWER SCOTT BENNETT: THE COMMERCE OF TERRORISM covertreport | Jun 20, 2015 More Episodes
http://truthfrequencyradio.com/the-covert-report-w-susan-lindauer-5356 0/

This is one you’ve got to hear! Whistleblower Scott Bennett talks about Dov Zakheim, Eric Holder, and the politics stopping a real investigation of terrorist financing by Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS) and HSBC. Scott talks about his major push to force Congress to tackle this beastly financial network that’s feeding, growing and perpetuating ISIS and Islamic Jihadi groups from Libya and North Africa all the way through Syria, Turkey and Iran. Who’s protecting the Commerce of Terrorism? The answers are shocking. If you’re angry like we are, and you want action, Scott Bennett urges listeners to call Senator Ron Johnson in Washington DC at 202-224-4751, or email whistleblower@ronjohnson.senate.gov. Demand that Scott Bennett be sworn to testify at a whistleblower hearing. Senator Johnson has indicated he’s committed to supporting whistleblower disclosures: Scott Bennett’s disclosures, if acted upon, could put Real Terrorists out of business for Good without sacrificing the lives of a single American soldier. Isn’t it high time America finds another way to confront this problem??

download
http://truthfrequencyradio.com/podcasts/covertreport/covertreport.2015 -06-20.mp3

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 28, 2015 11:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

HSBC's curbed 'risk appetite' - and what it means for British Muslims
Last year banking giant HSBC closed accounts of several British Muslims. Anna Meisel and Peter Oborne reveal how the decision was made
http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/hsbcs-curbed-risk-appetite-and-what- it-means-british-muslims-709622001

Several Muslim institutions and individuals say HSBC sent them letters last July saying their accounts had been closed (AFP)
In late July last year, Mohammed Kozbar, chairman of the Finsbury Park Mosque near the Emirates football stadium in north London, was astonished to receive a letter out of the blue from his bankers HSBC.
The letter informed him that his bank account was to be closed. It explained: “HSBC bank has recently conducted a general review and has concluded that provision of banking services to Finsbury Park Mosque now falls outside of our risk appetite.”
There was no further explanation and no right of appeal. Kozbar says that there had been no previous issues between the mosque and HSBC and that he “couldn’t understand” what had happened.
Several other Muslim institutions and individuals received the same letter from HSBC, each one dated 22 July 2014.
Other HSBC clients who suddenly fell outside the bank’s “risk appetite” included the Cordoba Foundation, a think tank which says that it specialises in building relations between the Muslim world and the West.
Anas Altikriti, the foundation’s chief executive, had banked with HSBC ever since he had been a university student 30 years ago. His personal bank account was closed, along with his wife’s and his two teenage children. Once again there was no right of appeal.
So what happened and why were the accounts closed? When we started to investigate we ran up against a wall of silence.
HSBC refuses to discuss the bank account closures. But we learned about World-Check, a confidential database owned by the financial information giant Thomson Reuters.
World-Check is used by 49 out of the largest 50 banks in the world to help them judge who to take on, or to retain, as clients.
In the post 9/11 world, banks are required to know their customers and can be held responsible if their clients are involved in financing terror or money-laundering. To avoid this, the banks rely heavily on databases like World-Check.
Journalists cannot get access to it but one of their clients – who had strong reservations about the software – let us in. When we obtained access to the database, the word “terrorism” came up in dark red, directly above the name of the Cordoba Foundation.
The World Check website page sourced the “terrorism” claim to the United Arab Emirates. The UAE lists the Cordoba Foundation as a terror group.
One of the smaller Gulf states, the UAE has itself been the centre of money-laundering allegations. It has been criticised for human rights abuses, including torture. It brands certain political opponents – including the Muslim Brotherhood - as terrorists.
Anas Altikriti is one of the most prominent Muslim Brotherhood supporters in Britain. His father was one of the leaders of the Brotherhood in Iraq.
The World-Check website contained several strong disclaimers, and stressed that the “accuracy of the information found in the underlying media sources should be verified with the profile subject before any action is taken”. Furthermore, World-Check stressed that the decision to open or close accounts lay with the banks.
World-Check also listed Finsbury Park Mosque under the category “terrorism”. In the case of the mosque, World-Check dealt in detail with the period when it was under the control of Abu Hamza, an al-Qaeda-sympathising cleric with proven links to terrorism.
However, a new management committee, led by Mohammed Kozbar and with the tacit approval of the Metropolitan Police, took over the running of the mosque a decade ago.
There have been no further suggestions of terrorist involvement. Though this information was included by World-Check, it took careful reading to get to it.
World-Check’s profiles are created from publicly available information of the kind that anyone can access. However it is not clear that banks can always reach an informed decision about clients based on the World-Check information.
Questions also surround World-Check sources. On examination of the website, we discovered information from Wikipedia as well as blogs (for instance Muslim Brotherhood Watch) and the news agency WAM, which is close to the UAE government.
When we put this to World-Check they said that: "World-Check uses only reliable and reputable public domain sources (such as official sanctions lists, law and regulatory enforcement lists, government sources and trustworthy media publications) for risk-based information or allegations about an individual or entity.
“We also provide secondary identifying information on individuals, such as dates and place of birth, and this will be similarly verified with reputable and official sources. If blog content appears, it is only as a supporting source for that secondary information, and is clearly identified as such."
The World-Check entry on Finsbury Park Mosque also contained the information that Mohammed Sawalha was a trustee. Sawalha is believed to be one of the most senior Muslim Brotherhood figures in Britain. He is also alleged to have been a Hamas commander in Gaza 25 years ago. Hamas is designated by the US and other governments as a terrorist organisation.
But Kozbar said that Sawalha had been a trustee ever since the new management board was configured 10 years ago, with the approval of the police.
Kozbar is shocked that World-Check listed his mosque under the designation “terrorist”. He says: “We never got this information before and we never thought that still Finsbury Mosque [is] considered as a terrorist place.”
The episode has inflicted reputational damage on the Finsbury Park Mosque, which found it impossible to get a bank account with another High Street Bank, he says. It now banks with a small Islamic bank.
HSBC refuses to answer questions about the closures. But it insists: "When we review a customer relationship we typically gather information from a wide range of sources and take a number of factors into consideration. Although we can't always provide customers with specific reasons for closing an account, any such decisions are not taken lightly and are not based on a customer's race or religion.
“We are committed to working with the UK government and industry bodies to support the not-for-profit sector and to help charity customers manage risk in their operations."
We also discovered a connection between David Cameron’s decision to review alleged Muslim Brotherhood links with terrorism, and the decision by HSBC to close down the bank accounts of several politically active British Muslims.
British government anxiety about the Muslim Brotherhood - as well as panic over the emergence of the Islamic State group - caused banks to conduct examinations of their clients in the early summer of 2014.
According to one senior government official: “There is a definite connection between the bank account closures and the review of the Brotherhood.”
Experts within the banking industry have confirmed that the Brotherhood review created an atmosphere of concern – though they added there was no pressure from government to close accounts.
Cameron’s review, which focused in part on the connections between the Brotherhood and terrorism, was announced in April 2014. Just three months later HSBC sent its letters to well-known British Muslim organisations and individuals.
The bank account closures were especially odd because counter-terrorism legislation gives the British authorities power to freeze the accounts of individuals or organisations which are suspected of being implicated in terrorism.
But this action has not been taken against any of the organisations whose bank accounts were closed by HSBC.
There is a deeper and more troubling context here.
By sending the message to law-abiding Muslims that they are excluded from the simple privileges enjoyed by all other British people, we risk encouraging rather than suppressing extremism.
This story, which also appears on BBC Online, is based on a BBC Radio 4 Documentary 'HSBC,

_________________
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'Suppression of truth, human spirit and the holy chord of justice never works long-term. Something the suppressors never get.' David Southwell
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Martin Van Creveld: Let me quote General Moshe Dayan: "Israel must be like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother."
Martin Van Creveld: I'll quote Henry Kissinger: "In campaigns like this the antiterror forces lose, because they don't win, and the rebels win by not losing."
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 05, 2015 1:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Simoes said earlier this year that being gay has proved to be "an advantage" for him in his career
HSBC has appointed one of the City's most prominent gay bankers to the board

Antonio Simoes could be being lined up to replace chief executive Stuart Gulliver
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/antonio-simoes-to-be-h sbcs-europe-chief-10439043.html

By JAMIE DUNKLEY
Wednesday 05 August 2015
HSBC has handed its rising star Antonio Simoes another promotion, encouraging speculation across the City that he is being lined up to eventually replace the group’s current chief executive, Stuart Gulliver.
Mr Simoes, who said earlier this year that being gay has proved to be “an advantage” for him in his career, already runs HSBC’s UK business. He will now add continental Europe to his responsibilities and join the FTSE 100 giant’s executive board.
His promotion comes at an interesting time for Europe’s largest bank by market capitalisation, which is considering whether to relocate its corporate headquarters to Hong Kong because of overbearing regulation in the UK.
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Read more:
Antonio Simoes says being gay has been 'an advantage'
HSBC to cut up to 25,000 jobs worldwide

HSBC plans to move its ring-fenced UK retail business to Birmingham in 2017 in a move that will result in about 1,000 jobs being relocated from Canary Wharf and the unit renamed.
Mr Simoes, who was also appointed chairman of the Financial Conduct Authority’s practitioner panel this week, joined the bank from the McKinsey consultancy in 2007 and has since risen through its ranks.
Business news in pictures
In January, he spoke to the Expresso newspaper in his native Portugal about his sexuality. He is married to Tomas, a Spaniard.
“[Being gay] made me a more authentic person, better able to empathise, and with more emotional intelligence. If I wasn’t gay, probably I wouldn’t be CEO.”
He also spoke about conversations with the former BP boss Lord Browne in which the latter admitted it had been difficult to come out because of his age. Mr Simoes said he believed that had all changed last year when Tim Cook, chief executive of Apple, announced that he was gay.

_________________
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http://aanirfan.blogspot.com
Martin Van Creveld: Let me quote General Moshe Dayan: "Israel must be like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother."
Martin Van Creveld: I'll quote Henry Kissinger: "In campaigns like this the antiterror forces lose, because they don't win, and the rebels win by not losing."
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 29, 2015 3:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

HSBC whistleblower given five years’ jail over biggest leak in banking history
Hervé Falciani sentenced in his absence for financial espionage by federal court for exposing wrongdoing at HSBC’s private Swiss bank
http://www.theguardian.com/news/2015/nov/27/hsbc-whistleblower-jailed- five-years-herve-falciani
Hervé Falciani
Juliette Garside
@JulietteGarside
Friday 27 November 2015 17.47 GMT Last modified on Friday 27 November 2015 22.43 GMT

The whistleblower who exposed wrongdoing at HSBC’s Swiss private bank has been sentenced to five years in prison by a Swiss court.

Hervé Falciani, a former IT worker, was convicted in his absence for the biggest leak in banking history. He is currently living in France, where he sought refuge from Swiss justice, and did not attend the trial.

The leak of secret bank account details formed the basis of revelations – by the Guardian, the BBC, Le Monde and other media outlets – which showed that HSBC’s Swiss banking arm turned a blind eye to illegal activities of arms dealers and helped wealthy people evade taxes.

The Guardian view on the HSBC files: a damning dossier
Read more
While working on the database of HSBC’s Swiss private bank, Falciani downloaded the details of about 130,000 holders of secret Swiss accounts. The information was handed to French investigators in December 2008 and then circulated to other European governments.

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It was used to prosecute tax evaders including Arlette Ricci, the heir to France’s Nina Ricci perfume empire, and to pursue Emilio Botín, the late chairman of Spain’s Santander bank.

Switzerland’s federal prosecutor had requested a record six-year term for Falciani for aggravated industrial espionage, data theft and violation of commercial and banking secrecy.

It was the longest sentence ever demanded by the confederation’s public ministry in a case of banking data theft. The trial was also the first conducted by the country’s federal criminal court in which the accused had not been present.

The defendant’s lawyers had demanded a reduced sentence, of between two and three years, “compatible with the granting of a reprieve”.

Falciani himself refused to appear in the dock, on the grounds that he would not be allowed a fair trial. He described the process as a “parody of justice”.

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Hervé Falciani speaking in February 2014, to film-maker Nick Francis, about why he became a whistleblower
Hired in 2004 to create a client management database for the Swiss private bank, Falciani was given wide-ranging access to sensitive data. One witness said he had brought his own laptop with him, which the company had no control over. He was able to install his own software on it. The laptop’s USB ports, into which memory sticks are inserted, were not blocked.

From October 2006 until he was questioned by police on 22 December 2008, Falciani used his privileged access to download data including bank account numbers, client names, addresses and dates of birth, and sums held in accounts.

Carlo Bulletti, for the prosecution, rejected the notion of Falciani as a whistleblower, saying his actions, including approaches to banks in Lebanon, suggested he had wanted to sell the stolen data.

“The whole construct of the white knight is just a web of lies,” claimed Bulletti.

HSBC’s lawyer, Laurent Moreillon, said that when copying the data, Falciani had given a series of different reasons: that he wanted to “conduct a simple test”, that he was using fictitious data, and that he wanted to test the bank’s security. But Falciani had never alerted anyone inside the bank to security failings.

“Greedy – he was and continues to be,” claimed Moreillon.

Falciani’s lawyer, Marc Henzelin, pointed out that his client was on trial at a time when Switzerland was in the process of dismantling its banking secrecy practices with proposals for new laws that would pave the way for automatic information exchange about offshore accounts held in Switzerland.

In fact, Switzerland announced on 4 November that the country’s finance ministry temporarily shelved the plans for reform.

“It is not Falciani who is being judged. It is the court. It is Switzerland,” said Henzelin.

His client had never denied stealing the data, and had worked openly with the French, German, British, Spanish, Indian and Argentinian authorities.

A French parliamentary report had found that of 2,325 French taxpayers with accounts at HSBC in Switzerland, just three had their affairs in order. Turning to HSBC’s lawyer, Henzelin said: “What damage are you claiming? The fact that your clients should have paid their taxes?”

As a holder of both Italian and French nationality, Falciani cannot be extradited to Switzerland by either of those countries and is therefore unlikely to ever serve his sentence.

HSBC welcomed the ruling, saying: “HSBC has always maintained that Falciani systematically stole clients’ information in order to sell it for his own personal financial gain. The court heard that he was not motivated by whistleblowing intentions and that this was not a victimless crime.”
The investigation showed that HSBC had routinely allowed clients to withdraw bricks of cash, often in foreign currencies of little use in Switzerland; that it aggressively marketed schemes likely to enable wealthy clients to avoid European taxes; that it colluded with some clients to conceal undeclared “black” accounts from their domestic tax authorities; and that it provided accounts to international criminals, corrupt businessmen and other high-risk individuals.

HSBC was fined £28m by the Geneva authorities this year, after investigators concluded that “organisational deficiencies” had allowed money laundering to take place at its Swiss subsidiary.

French magistrates are conducting a criminal investigation into the bank, alleging “complicity in aggravated money laundering and financial fraud”. HSBC has been ordered to post bail of €100m (£70m).

_________________
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'Suppression of truth, human spirit and the holy chord of justice never works long-term. Something the suppressors never get.' David Southwell
http://aangirfan.blogspot.com
http://aanirfan.blogspot.com
Martin Van Creveld: Let me quote General Moshe Dayan: "Israel must be like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother."
Martin Van Creveld: I'll quote Henry Kissinger: "In campaigns like this the antiterror forces lose, because they don't win, and the rebels win by not losing."
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 31, 2016 7:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

HSBC scammed £1billion from British high-street shoppers, the media blackout continues
JANUARY 31ST, 2016 James Wright JAMES WRIGHT NEWS AND POLITICS
HSBC scammed £1billion from British high-street shoppers, the media blackout continues

http://www.thecanary.co/2016/01/31/hsbc-scammed-1billion-british-high- street-shoppers-media-blackout-continues/

The deafening media silence on HSBC applying over £1bn of illegal charges to 500-600,000 British shoppers perseveres.

Working as a debt recovery specialist for HSBC, whistle-blower Nicholas Wilson was ordered to illegally overcharge British shoppers in arrears on store cards at the respected high-profile retailer John Lewis, which also owns the supermarket Waitrose.

Wilson refuses to be silenced, and has campaigned relentlessly since he told the bank 12 years ago what they were doing was illegal. His efforts have yielded no mainstream media coverage, and only independent journalists free from HSBC’s widespread influence – such as Dr. Nafeez Ahmed and those at Real Media – have reported on the story.

Just how deep does this rabbit hole go?

In 2003, HSBC acquired HFC, a bank rife with corruption.

Notorious for predatory sub-prime lending in America, HFC brought its business to the UK in the 1970s. Here, it engaged in fraudulent schemes to overcharge consumers through the store accounts of household names like Dixons, Currys, PC World, and B&Q.

When HSBC made the acquisition, they took over the store accounts of John Lewis and extended the culture of corruption accordingly, applying the illegal charges to John Lewis customers.

Enter Nicholas Wilson.

Wilson was head of debt recovery at Weightmans solicitors and had worked with John Lewis for over 20 years. When HSBC took over, they began adding so-called “collection charges” of 16.4% to the store card debt of British shoppers and sub-prime borrowers, amounting to anywhere between £500-£5,000 each. These charges were illegal, and Wilson loudly condemned them as such. Yet he was routinely ignored by those at his firm.

Fed up with being expected to sit down and stomach the parasitical racketeering, Wilson blew the whistle by reporting the crimes to the Law Society in 2006, which led to his immediate dismissal. The Law Society eventually agreed that the additional charges were illegal but took no action, claiming that “only happened in a small number of cases”. Meanwhile, an estimated £44m in illegal charges had been added in only the year of Wilson’s complaint.

Wilson then submitted a freedom of information request to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) to obtain records of the charges, with the intent of compiling as much evidence as possible. But the MoJ invoked a dubious loophole to sidestep giving him the information.

Finally, in 2010, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) ordered HSBC/HFC to either stop the illegal charges or change the terms and conditions to transparently include them:

OFT-order_crop

HSBC complied, but still nothing has been done since to recover over £1bn which they had already stolen from 500-600,000 British shoppers.

As a result, Wilson complained to the Financial Services Authority in 2012, which did nothing whatsoever. Fast forward to 2014 and the successor body, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), responded to a freedom of information request made by Wilson to explain their inaction.

This response has left the whole operation naked.

Financial journalist Ian Fraser exposed that the FCA is colluding with HSBC to cover up the fraud. A campaigner for financial justice, Joel Benjamin, had written to HSBC itself asking why it had not acted on Wilson’s allegations. A comparison of the two revealed that the main body of the response Benjamin received was identical to the response Wilson got from the FCA.

This heavily suggests that the FCA simply emailed HSBC asking them how they should respond, and then just copy and pasted HSBC’s reply into their own.

The entrenched corruption here howls the following question: how many other fraudulent schemes have big banks undertaken against the public with the aid of the financial authorities supposed to be regulating them?

The media censorship

The systematic media censorship of the outrageous HSBC fraud is perhaps what is most shocking. The list of media outlets that have investigated and then dropped the case includes BBC Newsnight, BBC Panorama, BBC Moneybox, BBC Radio 5 Live, the Guardian, the Sunday Times, and Private Eye.

The Telegraph

Last year, the then chief political commentator of the Telegraph – Peter Oborne – resigned because the outlet was censoring negative stories about HSBC. The advertising power the bank has is very worrying. Oborne said:

The coverage of HSBC in Britain’s Telegraph is a fraud on its readers.
The BBC

Many would think our public service broadcaster would be quick to report an issue that is so clearly in the public interest. This may be the case if the head of the BBC Trust – Rona Fairhead – was not placed there to cover it up, alleges Wilson.



Fairhead has sat on the board of HSBC directors for a very long time. She enjoys an annual salary of £500,000 and owns about £436,000 in shares.

As I reported previously, Fairhead has entrenched ties to the Tory government. In fact, she and Osborne are old friends. Fairhead worked for the Conservative government as a cabinet office member, until being appointed by the previous Conservative culture secretary – Sajid Javid – as the new head of the BBC Trust. She is still business ambassador for David Cameron.

Her appointment did not coincide with proper procedure, and many questioned whether she was right for the role. What it did coincide with was a string of interconnected visits from the BBC, HSBC, the Houses of Parliament, and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to Wilson’s website where he details the scam and the FCA’s involvement in covering it up.

Wilson said:

Since Fairhead’s appointment the BBC do not report damaging HSBC stories not already in the public domain and censor any stories they do report.
The function of a public broadcasting service is to circumvent this type of private interest, not sustain it.

The Guardian

It is a widespread misconception that the Guardian has a different funding mechanism from other outlets, which maintains its editorial integrity. Since 2008, the Guardian has been owned by a profit-making company. The outlet in fact receives the most in HSBC advertising revenue, even more than the Telegraph. HSBC revenue played a major role in the recent growth of Guardian US.

Widespread exposure of the HSBC fraud could result in the bank losing its license, and the Guardian losing an integral part of its growth.

In a Canary exclusive, Mr Wilson answered a few of our questions

What part of the investigation are you focusing on currently?

As the FCA has agreed to reopen its investigation my focus is primarily on the corruption of Cameron, the BBC and the unlawful appointment of Fairhead. Although I don’t hold out much hope of the FCA investigation now as they have just appointed a John Lewis director to their own board of directors! So it is important to keep the matter in the public arena to shame them if they still do decide to take no action.
What would it take for the mainstream media to report the story?

I think the story will only come out through the back door, by my constant drawing attention to BBC lack of HSBC reporting and Cameron’s persistent attempts to keep it covered up. But it will come out.
What can the readers do to support you, or is there any direct action they can take?

I will shortly have to crowdfund again to keep my home, although I have just applied for a job so am awaiting the outcome of that before I go begging again. If any readers have been affected they can contact me through my website and I will help them get their money back.
How can we free the media?

What a question! I don’t think you can so long as HSBC holds them to account with huge advertising revenue and directors in charge of the BBC etc. I think it’s the job of the ever more vocal and effective independent media to bring this to the public.
Which ethical bank would you recommend to our readers?

Whenever asked this I always direct people to Move Your Money, they do excellent work in evaluating and comparing banks.
What measures would prevent banks exploiting the public in the future?

This is a big worry because this government seems determined to undermine banking regulation, at the behest of the banks. My own view is that there should be one nationalised, not-for-profit bank that doesn’t speculate and is safe for anyone to use and is severely regulated. People who want to risk casino banks can then choose to do so if they like.
Spread the word

Mr Wilson has endured a lot of personal grief over the last 12 years while campaigning for the exposure of this outrageous banking scandal. The media, meanwhile, have systemically failed to do their job in reporting this fraud to the public.

The problem is, banks like HSBC are ‘too big to fail’. They are so ingrained in the current global financial system, that the repercussions of their collapse would be felt across the globe. The seeming omnipotence of banks like HSBC is because of the current global financial system. Too much wealth and power is in the hands of a few individuals. If this fraud was exposed then HSBC could lose their banking licence, resulting in worldwide economic destabalisation, so there are institutional reasons for officials to keep us in the dark.

This creates a global landscape where there is one rule for ordinary people and one rule for the banks. For “the largest drug-and-terrorism money-laundering case ever”, HSBC was merely fined $1.9bn. This amounts to “about five weeks profit”. If you or I were found to be aiding terrorism and drug dealers, we’d be locked up for years, if not decades.

Our unconditional reliance upon banks like HSBC to maintain the global financial markets means they can hold us to ransom. They can carry out fraud on customers with near impunity from governments. It is a striking example of the problem of such concentrated private wealth and influence. There needs to be systemic change so these banks can be held to account.

However, this story will eventually gain widespread public exposure, and authorities will be under immense pressure to serve justice. Customers may well tolerate distant money laundering, but finding out HSBC scammed them out of money on the high street may provoke a resounding animosity that would be difficult for the bank to recover from.

Get involved!

_________________
--
'Suppression of truth, human spirit and the holy chord of justice never works long-term. Something the suppressors never get.' David Southwell
http://aangirfan.blogspot.com
http://aanirfan.blogspot.com
Martin Van Creveld: Let me quote General Moshe Dayan: "Israel must be like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother."
Martin Van Creveld: I'll quote Henry Kissinger: "In campaigns like this the antiterror forces lose, because they don't win, and the rebels win by not losing."
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 13, 2016 3:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

InSight Crime | Organized Crime In The Americas
http://www.insightcrime.org/news-briefs/hsbc-sued-by-families-united-s tates-victims-mexico-drug-war

HSBC Sued by Families of US Victims in Mexico Drug War
Written by David Gagne Thursday, 11 February 2016
Mexico Money Laundering Human Rights
HSBC bank
HSBC bank
The family members of US citizens killed in Mexico from drug violence have sued HSBC for permitting cartels to launder huge amounts of illicit money through the bank, a case that could have major implications for how accomplices of the drug trade are prosecuted.
The lawsuit claims HSBC is liable for the violence that stems from international drug trafficking because the London-based bank knowingly allowed drug cartels to launder hundreds of millions of dollars through HSBC subsidiaries, reported Reuters. In December 2012, HSBC agreed to pay $1.9 billion in fines to US authorities following charges that Mexico's Sinaloa Cartel and Colombia's Norte del Valle Cartel laundered $881 million through the bank.
The lawsuit refers to the murders of US citizens by Mexican drug cartels between 2010 and 2011, according to Bloomberg. The victims' family members are now attempting to hold HSBC accountable for their deaths under the US Anti-Terrorism Act.
"The Mexican drug cartels are terrorists who routinely commit horrific acts of violence to intimidate, coerce, and control the civilian population and the government,” a lawyer for the families wrote in an e-mail to Bloomberg. "HSBC was complicit in laundering billions of dollars for drug cartels and should be held accountable under the Anti-Terrorism Act for supporting their terrorism."
The bank has reportedly said it will contend the lawsuit.
InSight Crime Analysis
If HSBC is ordered to pay damages to the families victimized by cartel violence it could potentially open a new set of possibilities regarding who is liable to prosecution for their role in the international drug trade.
In the most obvious example, other banks besides HSBC would become very nervous. In 2010, Wachovia (which is now part of Wells Fargo) agreed to pay $160 million after US prosecutors found over $100 million in drug proceeds had been laundered through the bank. And these cases may just be the tip of the iceberg; in 2012 a US Department of Justice official said international drug traffickers launder $85 billion each year in the United States.
SEE ALSO: Coverage of Money Laundering
But as El Daily Post points out, a wide range of actors besides banks could also be considered liable for Mexico's drug violence, from real estate agents to car dealers to even drug consumers. Ruling against HSBC may expose a plethora of other US institutions to lawsuits as well.
A successful lawsuit could also embolden Mexican victims of the drug war to file similar complaints, who outnumber their US counterparts by an overwhelming majority. A staggering 60,000 people are believed to have died as a result of drug violence in Mexico between 2006 and 2012.
Whether the complaint has legal merit, however, is uncertain. The plaintiffs are suing HSBC under the US Anti-Terrorism Act, but no Mexican drug cartel has ever been listed as a foreign terrorist organization by US authorities. This case could therefore revive debate about whether cartels should be considered terrorist groups.

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_________________
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'Suppression of truth, human spirit and the holy chord of justice never works long-term. Something the suppressors never get.' David Southwell
http://aangirfan.blogspot.com
http://aanirfan.blogspot.com
Martin Van Creveld: Let me quote General Moshe Dayan: "Israel must be like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother."
Martin Van Creveld: I'll quote Henry Kissinger: "In campaigns like this the antiterror forces lose, because they don't win, and the rebels win by not losing."
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 21, 2016 12:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

HSBC’s bank clients linked to dictators, arms dealers and tax dodgers
Sunday, February 8, 2015 21:36
http://beforeitsnews.com/alternative/2015/02/hsbcs-bank-clients-linked -to-dictators-arms-dealers-and-tax-dodgers-3105142.html

An ethical person – like a politician, banker or lawyer – may know right from wrong, but unlike a politician, a moral person lives it. “Marx and Engels never tried to refute their opponents with argument. They insulted, ridiculed, derided, slandered, and traduced them, and in the use of these methods their followers are not less expert. Their polemic is directed never against the argument of the opponent, but always against his person.” – Socialism http://chasvoice.blogspot.com/

by Gerald Ryle, 02.08.2015

Secret documents reveal that global banking giant HSBC profited from doing business with arms dealers who channeled mortar bombs to child soldiers in Africa, bag men for Third World dictators, traffickers in blood diamonds and other international outlaws.
The leaked files, based on the inner workings of HSBC’s Swiss private banking arm, relate to accounts holding more than $100 billion. They provide a rare glimpse inside the super-secret Swiss banking system — one the public has never seen before.
The documents, obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) via the French newspaper Le Monde, show the bank’s dealings with clients engaged in a spectrum of illegal behavior, especially in hiding hundreds of millions of dollars from tax authorities. They also show private records of famed soccer and tennis players, cyclists, rock stars, Hollywood actors, royalty, politicians, corporate executives and old-wealth families.
These disclosures shine a light on the intersection of international crime and legitimate business, and they dramatically expand what’s known about potentially illegal or unethical behavior in recent years at HSBC, one of the world’s largest banks.
How the offshore banking industry shelters money and hides secrets has enormous implications for societies across the globe. Academics conservatively estimate that $7.6 trillion is held in overseas tax havens, costing government treasuries at least $200 billion a year.
In many instances the records do describe questionable behavior, such as bankers advising clients on how to take a range of measures to avoid paying taxes in their home countries — and customers telling bankers that their accounts are not declared to their governments.
Highlights from ICIJ’s investigation:
The reporters found the names of current and former politicians from Britain, Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Kenya, Romania, India, Liechtenstein, Mexico, Tunisia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Paraguay, Djibouti, Senegal, the Philippines and Algeria, among others. They found several people on the current U.S. sanctions list, such as Selim Alguadis, a Turkish businessman alleged to have supplied sophisticated electrical goods to Libya’s secret nuclear weapons project, and Gennady Timchenko, a billionaire associate of Russian President Vladimir Putin and one of the main targets of sanctions imposed on Russian individuals and businesses in response to the annexation of Crimea and the crisis in eastern Ukraine.
The files reflect a spectrum of royalty, from King Mohammed VI of Morocco to the Crown prince of Bahrain, Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, to Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, the beloved cousin of Queen Elizabeth II of England, to dozens of members of Saudi Arabia’s ruling family. Many were partial or full beneficial owners of accounts. The role of the King of Morocco was not specified.
Business figures and political donors from the U.S. include the billionaire owner of the Victoria’s Secret lingerie chain, Les Wexner, who in 2012 donated $250,000 to a super PAC supporting former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney; the Israeli diamond-dealing Steinmetz family, and the financier and philanthropist S. Donald Sussman, whose account predated his marriage to Democratic Congresswoman Chellie Pingree of Maine.
A representative for Sussman said the account was not his, adding that he had made a passive investment in a technology venture fund. The representative said it was this fund that had the account, the existence of which he learned for the first time when questioned by ICIJ. “Mr. Sussman’s investments were minority interests,” the spokesman said, “and he had no involvement in the funds’ management, investment decisions, or other activities.”
An analysis of the files by ICIJ shows that many individuals linked to accounts took extra precautions to protect their identities, even though HSBC staff repeatedly assured customers they were already bound by tight Swiss banking secrecy.
Clinton Foundation Donors
The files show Richard Caring, a major donor to British politics, transferring $1 million to the Clinton Foundation, a nonprofit set up by the former U.S. President Bill Clinton with the stated mission to “strengthen the capacity of people in the United States and throughout the world to meet the challenges of global interdependence.”
The donation to the Clinton Foundation was requested in December 2005. The previous month, Caring funded a champagne and caviar extravaganza at Catherine the Great’s Winter Palace in St Petersburg, Russia, flying in 450 guests to be entertained by Sir Elton John and Tina Turner and addressed by Bill Clinton. The event raised more than £11 million for a children’s charity.
A number of other prominent donors to the Clinton Foundation appear in the files, including the Canadian businessman Frank Giustra and German motor racing superstar Michael Schumacher, a seven-time Formula One champion. A representative of Schumacher, who is listed as a beneficial owner of an account closed in 2002, told ICIJ that he is a long-term resident of Switzerland.
A spokesman for the Clinton Foundation told The Guardian it “has strong donor integrity and transparency practices that go well beyond what is required of U.S. charities, including the full disclosure of all of our donors.”
Links to Al Qaeda?
HSBC’s clients’ links to Al Qaeda were first publicly raised in the July 2012 U.S. Senate report, which cited an alleged internal Al Qaeda list of financial benefactors. The Senate report said the list came to light after a search of the Bosnian offices of the Benevolence International Foundation, a Saudi-based nonprofit organization that the U.S. Treasury Department has designated as a terrorist organization.
Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks, referred to the handwritten list of the 20 names as the “Golden Chain.”
From the moment the names on the Golden Chain list were made public in news reports in the spring of 2003, the Senate subcommittee stated that HSBC should have been “on notice” and aware these powerful business figures were high risk clients.
Though the significance of the Golden Chain list has since been questioned, the ICIJ found what appear to be three Golden Chain names with HSBC Swiss accounts that existed after that date.
Read the full story on ICIJ.org and explore the data.



Source: http://chasvoice.blogspot.com/2015/02/hsbcs-bank-clients-linked-to-dic tators.html

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 27, 2016 6:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Henri de Castries moves from AXA to ... perhaps HSBC
http://www.bilderberg.org/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?p=20138#20138


Axa chief executive quits after 16 years
Sponsored by HSBC (! You couldn't make it up)
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2016/03/21/axa-chief-executive-qui ts-after-16-years/

Marion Dakers, financial services editor 21 MARCH 2016 • 2:28PM
Henri de Castries is stepping down as chairman and chief executive of Axa after 16 years in charge of the French insurance institution.

De Castries, a well-connected member of French society who also chairs the Bilderberg Group of business leaders, will leave the firm in September.

The insurer will now split its most senior roles, with the chief executive post at the €52bn firm going to Thomas Buberl, who joined from rival insurer Zurich in 2012. Denis Duverne, who is currently deputy chief executive, will become non-executive chairman.

While the departure was not expected, Mr de Castries said preparations for his retirement had been several years in the making.

“The succession planning process initiated by the board upon my request in October 2013, confirmed the breadth and the quality of Axa’s teams and helped us identify a new generation of leaders,” said Mr de Castries. "Denis and I are extremely proud of the team we have been able to build and develop."

Mr de Castries joined Axa in 1989 after studying at the Ecole Nationale d’Administration alongside François Hollande and Ségolène Royal and spending several years in the French civil service. He took over from Claude Bebear as chief executive in 2000.

His name has been linked to the chairmanship of HSBC. Douglas Flint has signalled that he will step down within the next two years. De Castries has been on the board of the UK bank since the start of March.

Axa has pulled back from the British life insurance market in recent years but still runs a sizeable general insurance business. The group hired Barclays last year to explore selling more of its UK operations including its wealth manager.

The group has also pushed into numerous emerging markets across Africa, Latin America and Asia, and last year vowed to sell out of its fossil fuel investments as part of an effort to address the impact of climate change.

The departure of Mr de Castries is the latest in a growing line of exits from the top jobs of insurance companies. Old Mutual, Prudential, Admiral and Zurich are among the firms to have hired new bosses within the last year.

Analysis: Could HSBC pick de Castries as its next chairman?

While both boardrooms have been working on these moves for many months, the news that Henri de Castries would be leaving
Axa has come just days after HSBC kicked off the search for a new chairman to replace Douglas Flint.

De Castries only joined the HSBC board at the start of March, but already shares HSBC’s priorities, having built up Axa in emerging markets such as Latin America while rowing back from European growth that proved elusive.

His keen interest in Asian business would also be a mark in his favour with the Anglo-Asian bank's nominations committee. Axa has expanded rapidly into China’s nascent insurance market and he also sits on the advisory board of Tsinghua University’s business school.

"He is in a learning phase now and could step up next year,” one HSBC shareholder told Reuters.

HSBC’S recruitment process is being overseen by Sam Laidlaw, the ex-boss of Centrica, and Rachel Lomax, formerly of the Bank of England. Mr Flint wrote to investors last week to say he would stay on until his successor was
appointed, mostly likely in 2017.

The bank is keen to hire from outside its usual pool of HSBC veterans for the chairman’s post. Other candidates in the running include Paul Walsh, the former Diageo boss who joined the board at the same time as de Castries.

HSBC, while it has decided to keep its headquarters in the UK after years of wrangling with a move to Hong Kong, also has one eye on the forthcoming EU referendum. It is hatching plans to shift around 1,000 jobs to the French capital if Britain does vote to leave, in which case having a Parisian chairing the board could prove useful.

However, de Castries has tried to dampen the speculation that he was the man for the job, telling journalists that "I haven't taken part in a single board meeting at HSBC yet, I will do that next month...I'm a board member. I'm proud of it, that's it".

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 23, 2016 10:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

HSBC used by 'drug kingpins', says US Senate
17 July 2012
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-18867054

Senator Carl Levin: "HSBC's chief compliance officer knew what was going on"
HSBC provided a conduit for "drug kingpins and rogue nations", according to a US Senate committee investigating money laundering claims at the bank.
Its report said suspicious funds from countries including Mexico, Iran and Syria had passed through the bank.
The president and chief executive of HSBC Bank USA, Irene Dorner, apologised to the committee for the behaviour which she said deeply regretted.
Earlier, HSBC's head of compliance, David Bagley, resigned at the hearing.
Ms Dorner apologised "for the fact that HSBC did not live up to the expectations of our regulators, our customers, our employees, and the general public".
Some of the things I found frankly took my breath away
Paul Thurston, HSBC executive
King criticises Barclays' boardBernanke says Libor system flawed
She said she had worked hard to change the culture at the bank.
The bank also said it was in the process of closing 20,000 accounts in the Cayman Islands as a result of the investigation.
The US Department of Justice said it is conducting a criminal investigation into HSBC's operations.
Dangerous environment
Senator Carl Levin said HSBC's lack of controls at its US and overseas units had been "a recipe for trouble".
Mr Levin is chairman of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, which looked into HSBC's activities.
Mr Levin said an audit had found that: "From 2001 to 2007, HSBC affiliates sent almost 25,000 transactions involving Iran worth over $19bn dollars through HBUS and other US accounts, while concealing any link with Iran in 85% of the transactions."
HSBC senior executives in London knew what was going on, he said, but allowed the "deceptive conduct" to continue. Key HBUS officials were also informed early on, he said.
Analysis

By Paul AdamsBBC News, Washington
When it comes to HSBC's flawed operation in Mexico, where it bought a bank in 2002, the company's defence seems to be that it didn't know what it was getting into. Paul Thurston, who arrived there in 2007, said some of the things he discovered "took my breath away".
Sounding naive may work at a human level, but for an organisation that markets itself as "the world's local bank", it's fairly, well, breathtaking.
Faced with the report's catalogue of errors - failure to heed warnings that vast dollar transfers from Mexico to the US almost certainly involved drug money, or the fact that 41% of the bank's accounts in the Cayman Islands had no customer information attached - it was hardly surprising that HSBC's head of compliance, David Bagley, announced meekly that he was moving on.
The spotlight here was on HSBC, but this is a test case. The two Senators make it clear that other big banks need to take note.
US government rules prohibit financial transactions with Iran and certain other countries, the committee said the bank's actions in getting round these had in some cases assisted terrorism.
According to the Senate committee, HSBC accepted more than $15bn in cash from subsidiaries in Mexico, Russia and other countries at high risk of money laundering but failed to conduct any monitoring of these bulk cash transactions between mid-2006 and mid-2009.
The report also found that HSBC knew of lax anti-money laundering practices at its Mexican subsidiary HBMX, which had dated back to its purchase in 2002.
HBMX was warned, on at least two occasions, by Mexican authorities that drug money was probably being laundered through HBMX accounts.
The hearing comes at a time when the standing of banks is already at rock bottom, says BBC New York business correspondent, Michelle Fleury.
She says: "The scandal over the manipulation of the Libor inter-bank lending rate hasn't exactly inspired confidence and has also been under scrutiny in Congress on the same day. The idea though that one of the world's biggest banks would be facilitating violent crime threatens to cast an even darker shadow over banks and bankers."
'Painful and embarrassing'
One HSBC executive, Paul Thurston, who was head of retail banking and wealth management, said the bank had taken wrongdoing seriously, and had taken action on many occasions, including dismissing staff.
Jump media playerMedia player helpOut of media player. Press enter to return or tab to continue.
Media caption"Now is the appropriate time for someone new to head group compliance"
He told the hearing of the difficulties of working in Mexico, which, he said, was a dangerous environment where kidnapping of bank staff was widespread and employees came under pressure from criminals who would attempt to corrupt them.
Mr Thurston referred to substandard record-keeping and the difficulty of knowing who the bank's clients were. He said: "Some of the things I found frankly took my breath away."
Before the hearing began, HSBC said in a statement, that it expected to be held accountable for what went wrong.
"We will apologise, acknowledge these mistakes, answer for our actions and give our absolute commitment to fixing what went wrong," HSBC said.
Senator Levin spoke of a "polluted" system that allowed black-market funds to move through the US banking system.
"In an age of international terrorism, drug violence in our streets and on our borders, and organised crime, stopping illicit money flows that support those atrocities is a national security imperative," said Mr Levin.
The report also concludes that the US bank regulator, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, failed to properly monitor HSBC.
Many of HSBC's breaches of US anti-money laundering relate to its use of bearer share accounts. Under the rules for these accounts, ownership of shares and the income they incur can be passed from person to person in secrecy.
HSBC's US subsidiary HBUS had opened more than 2,550 accounts for bearer share corporations.
These businesses are commonly set up in tax havens such as the British Virgin Islands.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 14, 2016 8:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

George Osborne 'intervened' in HSBC money laundering probe allegations claims US report
A US report has claimed the UK's Financial Services Authority "hampered" an official investigation into money laundering allegations against banking giant HSBC and that Chancellor George Osborne sought to influence the inquiry.
PUBLISHED: 00:00, Tue, Jul 12, 2016 | UPDATED: 13:16, Tue, Jul 12, 2016
http://www.express.co.uk/news/politics/688676/George-Osborne-intervene d-HSBC-money-laundering-probe-allegation-US-report-claims

A US report claimed George Osborne sought to influence the inquiry against banking giant HSBC

HSBC was not prosecuted over the allegations in the US because officials were concerned it would cause a global financial disaster, according to the report.

The bank was instead fined £1.2bn by the US authorities in 2012 in a settlement.

The report, "Too big to jail: Inside the Obama Justice Department's decision not to hold Wall Street accountable", names Mr Osborne as having intervened in the US investigation by sending a letter in September 2012 to the chairman of the Federal Reserve.

Osborne poised to seal NEW trade deals with BIGGEST American investors

'We're leaving the EU, not the world' Osborne reassures Remainers

It says: "Chancellor Osborne insinuated in his letter of September 10th that the US was unfairly targeting UK banks by seeking settlements that were significantly higher than 'comparable' settlements with US banks."

GETTY
HSBC was not prosecuted over the allegations in the US

The report is by Republican staff of the committee on financial services in the US House of Representatives, which is chaired by Republican Jeb Hensarling.

It claims: "Rather than lacking adequate evidence to prove HSBC's criminal conduct, internal Treasury documents show that DOJ leadership declined to pursue AFMLS's recommendation to prosecute HSBC because senior DOJ leaders were concerned that prosecuting the bank 'could result in a global financial disaster' - as the FSA repeatedly warned."

GETTY

GETTY
The report says Chancellor Osborne insinuated that the US was unfairly targeting UK banks

In the executive summary it said: "The involvement of the United Kingdom's Financial Services Authority in the US government's investigations and enforcement actions relating to HSBC, a British-domiciled institution, appears to have hampered the US government's investigations and influenced DOJ's decision not to prosecute HSBC."



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PostPosted: Sat Mar 11, 2017 7:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Death, drugs, and HSBC
Fraudulent blood money makes the world go round
https://medium.com/insurge-intelligence/death-drugs-and-hsbc-355ed9ef5 316

By Nafeez Ahmed

This story is published by INSURGE INTELLIGENCE, a new crowd-funded investigative journalism project. Become a patron of independent, investigative journalism for the global commons via Patreon.com

Recent reporting on illegal tax evasion by the world’s second largest bank, HSBC, opens a window onto the pivotal role of Western banks in facilitating organised crime, drug-trafficking and Islamist terrorism. Governments know this, but they are powerless to act, not just because they’ve been bought by the banks: but because criminal and terror financing is integral to global capitalism. Now one whistleblower who uncovered an estimated billion pounds worth of HSBC fraud in Britain, suppressed by the British media, is preparing a prosecution that could blow wide open the true scale of criminal corruption in the world’s finance capital.

Following revelations that the Swiss banking arm of HSBC — the world’s second largest bank — was engaged in massive fraudulent tax-evasion relating to assets totaling $100 billion, Peter Oborne dropped an unexpected bombshell.

The veteran journalist exposed how one of Britain’s leading national broadsheets, The Telegraph, refused to cover the HSBC scandal to protect its corporate advertising revenues. The increasing encroachment of corporate power on The Telegraph’s editorial decisions was among the factors, Oborne said, that led him to resign from his position as chief political commentator at the paper.

But the latest HSBC scandal, and The Telegraph’s belatedly selective reporting of it, barely scratch the surface of the enormous power wielded by Britain’s biggest bank at the expense of the British public.

The scale of tax-evasion in the HSBC Swiss leaks case amounts to hundreds of millions of pounds.

Another far worse case of HSBC fraud totalling an estimated £1 billion, closer to home and premised on the bank’s ability to prey on unsuspecting British shoppers, has been systematically covered up by regulators, police, law firms, the government and much of the UK media.
Fraud

According to whistleblower Nicholas Wilson, HSBC has been integrally involved in a fraudulent scheme to illegally overcharge British shoppers in arrears for debt on store cards at leading British high-street retailers. Without knowing, hundreds of thousands of Britons have been defrauded of a total of one billion pounds worth of money, reveals Wilson, a former debt recovery specialist who uncovered the crimes.
Nicholas Wilson, former head of debt recovery at Weightmans solicitors, and whistleblower on HSBC fraud

And that’s just the quantity of illegal profiteering through debt recovery uncovered by one whistleblower at one bank.

In 2003, HSBC bought HFC Bank, which had been charged by US authorities with predatory sub-prime lending across the country. By acquiring HFC, HSBC took on the bank’s debt recovery business on behalf of leading British high-street retailers relating to the use of store cards, including B&Q, Dixons, Currys, PC World, Furniture Village, among others.

That year, under the mantle of its new ownership by HSBC, HFC also acquired the store card business of the John Lewis Partnership, the reputable department store that also owns supermarket chain, Waitrose. The store card debt recovery work for retailers like John Lewis was operated on behalf of HSBC/HFC by two firms of solicitors, Weightmans LLP and Restons.
An appropriately rubbish random photo of the HSBC logo

Nicholas Wilson, who was then head of debt recovery at Weightmans and had acted for John Lewis for 25 years, discovered that both Weightmans and Restons added so-called “collection charges” of 16.4% to the store card debt they were collecting on accounts that were in arrears — possibly for as long as 20 years. Charges would range from anywhere between £500 and £5,000.

The addition of those so-called “collection charges,” though, was thoroughly illegal. Rather than charging HSBC for its debt collection work, the solicitors were with the bank’s approval arbitrarily adding these “contingency fees” to the debt owed, which they took for themselves, in flagrant violation of the very consumer credit agreements that they were supposed to be collecting on. Those credit agreements did not allow consumers to be charged such fees.

No sooner had HSBC acquired John Lewis’ store card business through its subsidiary HFC, the illegal charges that were already being applied to so many other retailers were added to John Lewis’ accounts.

“I handled John Lewis debt collection for over 20 years and negotiated my firm’s contract with HSBC/HFC,” said Nicholas Wilson. “The illegal arrangement was between the solicitors and the bank, and I told them all at the very first meeting it was illegal.”

Despite repeated reminders from Wilson about their illegality, his complaints were ignored.

By 2006, Wilson could no longer stomach the fraudulent fees that were being applied to accounts handled by HSBC for retailers like John Lewis and many others. As many as 600,000 people, he estimates, were being defrauded.

He went to the Law Society and blew the whistle. Weightmans then made Wilson redundant. The Law Society oversaw a mediation process between Wilson and HSBC, in which the Society eventually concluded that the solicitors had no right to charge consumers the excess fees.

Neither Weightmans nor Reston solicitors responded to requests for comment.
Cover-up

Wilson’s tireless efforts to expose HSBC’s £1 billion fraud, at considerable personal expense to his own health and well-being, have been systematically stonewalled to this day.

He writes on his blog, where he has published some of the evidence relating to his case:

“After a 12 year struggle trying to expose massive fraud by HSBC, having lost my job; nearly lost my home and facing new repossession proceedings; having damaged my mental and physical health to the extent that I am probably no longer capable of working; and having met and talked to many whistleblowers in similar situations, my conclusion is do not blow the whistle in the UK, unless it’s a matter of life and death.”

After being made redundant, Wilson wrote to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) to obtain copies of all the claims that Weightmans and Restons had made against debtors, which are obtainable under Freedom of Information. He wanted to obtain as much documentary evidence as possible about the fraud. But the MoJ concocted a questionable loophole to avoid handing Wilson the information.

Eventually, in November 2010, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) responded to Wilson’s campaign by issuing an order against HSBC/HFC demanding that it either discontinue the collection charges, or amend the consumer credit agreements to transparently incorporate them into the terms and conditions. HSBC eventually stopped the fraud, but nothing has been done to recompense consumers from the billion pounds worth of fees fraudulently collected.

When Wilson contacted the FSA in 2012 about the fraud, they did nothing. Two years later, the FSA’s successor body, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), belatedly decided to explain the basis of its decision to do nothing. But shockingly, the letter written by this supposedly independent regulatory watchdog body literally cut and pasted portions of a letter written by HSBC’s own legal team. Financial journalist, Ian Fraser, exposed the incident, concluding that:

“HFC/HSBC and the Financial Conduct Authority have been caught red handed, and Wilson accuses them of colluding to cover up a £1 billion fraud. He says that, if the bank was to be obliged to compensate the 500,000–600,000 people it has allegedly fleeced, it would need to pay them an average of £1,500 (with interest) each.”

Wilson’s next move is to complain about the FCA’s collusion. But, he told me: “To further complain about the FCA I have to go to the Complaints Commissioner, one Anthony Townsend who was head of SRA when they covered up the same fraud.”

Last month, Conservative MP Jess Norman questioned FCA chief Martin Wheatley in parliament at a Treasury Select Committee hearing, on its apparent collusion with HSBC in dismissing Wilson’s disclosures of the fraud conducted against British consumers.
Martin Wheatley, chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority, poses for a Bloomberg News photo-shoot. Presumably, this sort of photo is supposed to help convince us how deadly serious he is about regulating the financial industry

Despite admitting that HSBC had “lied” about the legitimacy of the collection charges against consumer debt, that “fraud” had potentially occurred, and that the FCA did possess “supervisory and enforcement powers” to address the fraud, Wheatley justified the FCA’s failure to apply those powers on the grounds of having “a multitude of other calls on our resources.” Taking such action, he claimed, would be “disproportionate.”

“Well, I am speechless,” said Jesse Norman, clearly taken aback.

A spokesperson for HSBC declined to comment on Wilson’s allegations of fraud.
Censorship

The full-scale of the fraud targeted at consumers by banks in the name of debt recovery is unknown. What is known, is that such practices have happened in different ways elsewhere, and could be continuing with impunity in forms that are routinely concealed with the collusion of regulators.

“There will be many consumers who are still paying the illegal charges because they will be paying in installments,” said Wilson. The credit card firm American Express, he added, “were also adding unlawful charges and the OFT made an order against them at the same time as HSBC/HFC. I am sure the practice is rife in debt recovery — I have been told of many instances where a debt has been passed on or sold and suddenly there’s a big jump in the amount due.”

The biggest victims of such fraud are those with low-income. HFC’s other businesses, for instance, included a personal loan scheme, which ran through about 125 branches at retailers up and down the UK, but often in some of the poorest areas. I have also seen very similar reports from consumers being pursued by debt collection agencies on behalf of leading British companies, where large fees are unilaterally added on top of the debt payment.

Wilson said:

“The industry needs investigating but it’s not glamorous or sexy so I doubt it ever will be.”

Most disturbing of all, the story of HSBC’s fraud against British consumers has been systematically ignored by the entire British press. In some cases, purportedly brave investigative journalism outfits have spent months investigating the story, preparing multiple drafts, before inexplicably spiking publication without reason.

To date, the only mainstream coverage Wilson has received was a brief appearance on BBC’s The Big Questions. That is not for want of understanding the story.

The full list of media organisations that have investigated, then spiked, Wilson’s story, despite its unprecedented importance and public interest value, includes BBC Panorama, BBC Newsnight, BBC Moneybox, BBC Radio 5 Live, The Guardian, Private Eye, and most recently, The Sunday Times.

“All of the major publications and broadcasters live in constant fear of being sued by City of London firms with deep pockets and aggressive panels of lawyers,” said Joel Benjamin, campaigner for Move Your Money UK.

In 2013, Benjamin recalled, Move Your Money obtained a consumer marketing report sponsored by City of London financial firms, which confirmed a huge exodus of 2.4 million high street bank customers away from the big four banks after the Libor scandal that had exposed colossal levels of fraud and collusion amongst major London banks. The BBC was planning to cover the story as an exclusive, “but pulled at the last minute, following intervention by the City lobby, namely the British Bankers Association threatening legal action.”

Still, why would there be such a huge degree of censorship on Wilson’s story on HSBC fraud, but abundant coverage of the HSBC Swiss bank tax evasion scandal? The scandal, points out Benjamin, is not related to UK crimes, or issues that might threaten HSBC’s continued operation in the UK. Given that HSBC has subsidiaries in 556 tax havens around the world, he said, the bank can “deal with a tax avoidance scandal in one of these jurisdictions, and continue relatively unscathed.”

But there is another issue, which relates to the scale of such fraud in the UK, and its contribution to economic growth. London, even more than Wall Street, is the world’s finance capital, harbouring most of the global economy’s international transactions, and therefore holding 400% more money than Britain’s entire GDP. A significant quantity of this money — “many hundreds of billions of pounds” worth — is from the criminal economy and laundered through UK banks and their subsidiaries. As Benjamin said:

“What the British government cannot tell the public is that the current growth model for the UK economy revolves around the endorsement and protection of financial sector fraud.”

The exposure of HSBC’s fraud in Britain could fundamentally jeopardise both the bank’s domestic and US operations.
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The threat of legal action is only one part of the explanation for the reluctance of the British media to pursue such critical issues. The other dimension is that HSBC has gone to great efforts to capture as much of the media as it possibly can.

In August last year, HSBC director Rona Fairhead was appointed as chair of the BBC’s board of trustees. Fairhead is currently chair of HSBC’s North America Holdings, and was chair of the audit and risk committee when HSBC was fined by US authorities for money-laundering. Some of the fraud exposed in the Swiss leaks occurred during her watch on the committee. Before her government nomination to the BBC, Fairhead was appointed a British Business Ambassador by Prime Minister David Cameron. Prior to that, she had been a non-executive board director for the UK Cabinet Office under the coalition government.
Rona Fairhead, chair of the BBC Trust, is also a director and shareholder at HSBC

As former BBC newsman and Radio 5 Live executive Bill Rogers reports, Fairhead owns a total of some 76,254 HSBC shares, collectively worth an estimated £436,000. Over the year, she earned £494,000 in fees and £19,000 in benefits from HSBC.

The Guardian, in contrast, has loudly and triumphantly congratulated itself for reporting on the HSBC Swiss bank scandal despite the bank putting its advertising relationship with the newspaper “on pause.” Yet the newspaper has refused to cover Wilson’s story exposing HSBC fraud in Britain. Why?

Here’s something you won’t read in the Guardian. During the Treasury Select Committee meeting on 15th February, it emerged that the newspaper that styles itself as the world’s “leading liberal voice” happens to be the biggest recipient of HSBC advertising revenue: bigger even than the Telegraph.

According to the Guardian Media Group’s annual financial review last year, its American website, Guardian US, delivered “record online traffic” in the form of over 20 million unique monthly users “representing year-on-year growth of 12%.” User growth permitted a dramatic increase in advertising revenues: “Revenues from US operations more than doubled on the previous 12-month period, reflecting advertising demand and sponsorship deals with partners such as HSBC, Netflix and Airbnb.”

HSBC’s “partnership” with the Guardian Media Group has thus played an integral role in enabling the Guardian’s US venture to maximise its revenues, and expand its work.

The Guardian’s links with HSBC go beyond mere advertising. Much has been made of the fact that the newspaper is owned and run by The Scott Trust, originally created in 1936 “to safeguard the title’s journalistic freedom.” The paper, wrote leftwing columnist Owen Jones in the wake of Peter Oborne’s revelations, “is unique for being owned by a trust rather than a media mogul.”

I have a lot of respect for Jones, who is doing important work, but his assertion here is untrue and misleading.

The Guardian is not owned by a trust at all. In 2008, “the trust was replaced with a limited company” that was accordingly re-named “The Scott Trust Limited.” Though not a trust at all, but simply a profit-making company, it is still referred to frequently as ‘The Scott Trust,’ promulgating the widely-held but mistaken belief in the Guardian’s inherently benign ownership structure.

The new company purports, like many other corporate entities, to be guided by a range of commendable values, including the task of maintaining the Guardian’s editorial independence. The problem, of course, is that the Guardian functions under the same sort of corporate structure as any other major media company.

The chair of the Scott Trust Ltd. board is Dame Liz Forgan, who has repeatedly called for the financial sector to contribute more to the arts. Two years ago, her attitude to the sector was revealed when she described government tax-cuts to the wealthy as “helpful changes in the tax law,” but opined that the “huge new wealth created in the City” as a result was only problematic because it is not “finding its way to the arts.” British financiers, she suggested, should follow the exemplary model of Russian oligarchs, who “respect and value their culture.” It is difficult to understand how corrupt oligarchs with nothing better to do than lavish stolen wealth on obscene ‘artistic’ pursuits of concern to a tiny Russian minority should in anyway be considered a model for Britain, given the record levels of impoverishment in Russia (thanks in no small part to neo-liberal austerity), not to mention growing inequality in the UK manifest in demand for food banks which in 2013 had rocketed up by 54%.

Forgan is deputy chair of the board of the British Museum, where she was appointed a trustee in 2008. According to minutes of a British Museum board meeting that year, the board approved a bank mandate to open an HSBC account that would facilitate “HSBC being a sponsor of Museum activities.” Forgan is also patron of St. Giles Trust, which since 2013 has been sponsored by HSBC as part of its three year ‘Opportunity Partnership.’

Conspiracy? Coincidence? Either way, the chair of the company that owns the Guardian, the biggest recipient of HSBC digital advertising revenue, is involved in facilitating HSBC contributions to two institutions.

Apart from Forgan, the rest of the Scott Trust Ltd.’s board consists of ex-journalists and financiers, all of whom are shareholders in the Trust, which in turn is the sole shareholder of Guardian Media Group, and which is thus responsible for overseeing how the Group manages and re-invests Guardian profits. They must juggle the task of operating the Guardian “as a profit-seeking enterprise,” while securing its “financial and editorial independence” — goals that as the HSBC case illustrates, are ultimately mutually incompatible.

Alongside Forgan is Anthony Salz, a senior investment banker and executive vice chairman of Rothschild, and a director at NM Rothschild and Sons. He was a key legal adviser to Guinness during the notorious share-rigging scandal, helped Rupert Murdoch form BSkyB, and was vice chair of the BBC’s Board of Governors before it was replaced by the BBC Trust. He was also lead non-executive director of the board at the Department for Education under arch-neoconservative Michael Gove. Until 2006, Salz led a highly successful 30 year career as a corporate lawyer at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, where he was head and senior managing partner since 1996.
Anthony Salz, a Rothschild investment banker who helped Rupert Murdoch with BSkyB, oversees the Guardian as a Scott Trust Ltd. executive

One of Freshfield’s most prominent long-term clients is HSBC. In 2012, Salz’s former firm was appointed to advise HSBC on its record $1.9 billion fine from US authorities for money-laundering, regarding its UK law implications. Although that occurred well after Salz’s time, HSBC’s relationship with Freshfields had been consolidated under Salz’s tenure shortly before he left, establishing an advisory monopoly on much of HSBC’s corporate work in Asia, and displacing the rival firm Norton Rose as HSBC’s advisor of choice.

Forgan and Salz are accompanied on the Scott Trust Ltd.’s board by Philip Tranter, a former partner and head of corporate law at the firm, Boyes Turner, where he led on major corporate transactions as well as banking and finance. Tranter is still a consultant for the firm. Among Boyes Turner’s corporate clients are most major British banks: including HSBC.
Philip Tranter, a former corporate lawyer and currently a consultant for Boyes Turner, among whose clients is HSBC

Also on the Scott Trust Ltd. board is Jonathan Scott, chairman of Ambac Assurance UK, and a former director at KPMG Corporate Finance. Ambac Assurance is a UK subsidiary Ambac Assurance, which in turn is part of the Ambac Financial Group based in New York. Ambac played a major role in underwriting dodgy derivatives at the heart of the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis, and was implicated in fraud to save its skin as the crisis kicked off — but still managed to obtain a $700 million government bailout that even the Internal Revenue Service agreed was unwarranted.

Andrew Miller, another Scott Trust Ltd. board member, was chief financial officer of Autotrader publisher, Trader Media Group, which was jointly owned by the Guardian Media Group and the giant private equity firm, Apax Partners. One director of an early Apax Fund, Apax Europe IV, that closed in 1999, is David Staples, who is currently director of what he calls “five large private equity funds managed by Apax Partners.” Simultaneously, David Staples is a director of HSBC Private Bank Ltd. Early last year, the Guardian Media Group sold its remaining 50.1% stake in Trader Media Group to Apax Funds. The Guardian was advised on the transaction by Bank of America, Merrill Lynch — and by Anthony Salz’s former firm, Freshfields, which also last year advised HSBC over a government inquiry into competition in the banking sector.

The Guardian and the Telegraph are hardly the only newspapers with large, long-term sponsorship deals, and intersecting relationships, with HSBC.

The week before last, the Sunday Times was preparing to run a big exposé on the HSBC consumer credit fraud. The story was ready to go, but at the last minute was inexplicably dropped. HSBC happens to be the main sponsor of a series of Sunday Times league tables published for FastTrack 100 Ltd., a “networking events company.” The bank is the “title sponsor” of The Sunday Times HSBC Top Track 100, has been “title sponsor of The Sunday Times HSBC International Track 200 for all 6 years” and was previously “title sponsor of The Sunday Times Top Track 250 for 7 years.”

FastTrack annual league table supplements and awards programmes have created networks of powerful capitalists “ranging from tech entrepreneurs to those who run and own the biggest private companies.”

A query sent to the Sunday Times journalist preparing the spiked story received no response.

Another publication that spiked Wilson’s story is Private Eye. The well-known muckraking magazine had pursued the story for months, interviewed multiple relevant sources, fact-checked documents, and had prepared a final, formatted draft that bar some copy-editing, was virtually print-ready.

But as with other outlets, Private Eye unexpectedly dropped the story at the last minute with no explanation. Private Eye’s editor said that he was “unable to comment” on the matter when asked why the story was spiked.
Blood money

HSBC’s effective immunity from meaningful sanction or accountability from government can be gleaned from disclosures in the US about the bank’s systematic complicity in criminal financing involving Islamist terrorism, drug-trafficking, money-laundering, among other things.

As investigative journalist Matt Taibbi wrote in Rolling Stone, the $1.9 billion in fines leveled at HSBC by the US Justice Department was for “the largest drug-and-terrorism money-laundering case ever.” The settlement was a mere slap on the wrist, equivalent to “about five weeks’ profit,” that allowed the bank to completely evade prosecutions.

Yet HSBC had engaged in aiding and abetting murder and terror on a grand scale — because organised crime is exceedingly profitable. Clients requiring criminal services can be charged any rate, allowing for literally fantastical scales of profit.

Much of HSBC’s misdemeanours were documented in an extensive 2012 report by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. Amongst its damning findings was HSBC’s longstanding relationship with Saudi Arabia’s al-Rajhi bank, described by the CIA in 2003 as a “conduit for extremist finance.” US intelligence assessed that al-Rajhi founder Sulaiman bin Abdul Aziz was a member of Osama bin Laden’s ‘Golden Chain’ financiers of al-Qaeda, and had in that capacity pushed al-Rahji bank to find ways to avoid subjecting the bank’s charitable donations to official scrutiny.
Sheikh Sulaiman bin Abdul Azis, founder of al-Qaeda sponsoring al-Rajhi Bank, and idolised HSBC client

In 2003, HSBC was ordered by the US Federal Reserve to cease-and-desist its relationships with clients like al-Rahji. HSBC refused to do so, deceptively ending ties with al-Rahji bank and continuing relations with ‘al-Rahji Trading’ instead. Meanwhile, HSBC continued to engage dodgy clients, racking up dozens of repeated government warnings which it simply ignored. By 2006, the Bush administration canceled the 2003 cease-and-desist order, and HSBC almost immediately provided a billion dollars to al-Rahji. HSBC went on to launder money for Mexican and Colombian drug-cartels, criminal syndicates run out of foreign embassies, and countries under US sanctions like Iran and North Korea.

As Taibbi reveals, though, HSBC senior executives in London headquarters appeared to be fully aware of such activity: “… the chiefs in the parent company often knew about shady transactions when the regional subsidiary did not.” In the words of the Senate report, “HSBC was fully aware of the suspicions that al-Rajhi Bank and its owners were associated with terrorist financing, describing many of the alleged links in the al-Rajhi Bank client profile.”

By 2010, HSBC had racked up a backlog of 17,000 suspicious activity alerts that it had simply ignored. Yet the bank’s standard response when it received its next government cease-and-desist order was simply to ‘clear’ the alerts, and give assurances that everything was fine. According to former HSBC compliance officer and whistleblower Everett Stern, the bank’s executives were deliberately ignoring and violating anti-money laundering regulations. The Senate report found that HSBC had “exposed the US financial system to a wide array of money laundering, drug trafficking, and terrorist financing risks.”

Why did the US government avoid seeking criminal charges and prosecutions against HSBC, despite its unambiguous track record of financial crimes? The explanation of then Justice Department criminal division chief, Lanny Breuer, is telling:

“Had the US authorities decided to press criminal charges, HSBC would almost certainly have lost its banking license in the US, the future of the institution would have been under threat and the entire banking system would have been destabilised.”

Breuer was rewarded amply by Wall Street for his kindness. The following year, he landed a job at his former law firm, Covington and Burling, with a salary of $4 million.

Though Breuer’s excuse seems facetious, it is also revealing. Governments are fully aware that the organised criminal economy is so huge, and so systemically entwined with the global banking system, that it cannot be shut down without fundamentally transforming both politics and economics together.

Terrorism finance expert Dr. Loretta Napoleoni, an economist who advises governments on counter-terrorism and money laundering, estimates the total value of the global criminal economy to be about $1.5 trillion annually. The bulk of this criminal finance “flows into Western economies, where it gets recycled in the US and in Europe” as a “vital element of the cash flow of these economies.”

Estimates by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and the IMF suggest that organised crime amounts to around 3–5% of global GDP.

Ten years ago, a Newsweek investigation described the “exponential growth in illicit trade across the world.” While global trade has roughly doubled since 1990, the criminal economy has grown tenfold. Organised crime, in other words, is one of the biggest growth sectors under neoliberal capitalism.

“Since illicit trades can thrive only with government complicity, this means that traffickers are investing huge sums to gain political influence, and not just in their home countries,” wrote Newsweek.

Indeed, most criminal finance runs through Western banks, especially in London. The bulk of profits from the Colombian drug trade, for instance — about 97% — are laundered for criminal syndicates through banks “in first-world consuming countries.” Dr. Alejandro Gaviria, an economist at the University of the Andes, Bogota, who co-authored a landmark study of the global drug trade funded by the Colombian government, said:

“We know that authorities in the US and UK know far more than they act upon. The authorities realise things about certain people they think are moving money for the drug trade — but the DEA [US Drugs Enforcement Administration] only acts on a fraction of what it knows.”

The underground criminal economy, writes Newsweek, is now “truly multinational, weaving together global networks of political allies and generating profits on an unprecedented scale.” As governments have continued to deregulate the economy, lower tariffs, eliminate currency controls and open up economies to foreign investment, the criminal economy and bank profits have flourished together.

Former BBC and Channel 4 executive producer David Malone, author of The Debt Generation, thus underscores the symbiotic links between the mainstream financial system and criminal finance:

“We, the rich West, use it, we finance it, we provide the laundering services for it, and we then use the money it generates to feed the financial system. That money keeps our banks going, especially in hard times. That money is what is used by the financial industry to speculate with, to buy up sovereign assets with, to speculate on food with. That money helps create their bonuses and pays off our politicians in ‘soft donations’ and ‘access to decision makers.’”

Too big to jail?

In 2013, MI5 chief Jonathan Evans joined the board of HSBC Holdings as a non-executive director after retiring. The year after, Evans was appointed to the board of the UK government’s National Crime Agency, a multi-agency partnership between the police, law enforcement, public sector and private industry to lead the fight against serious and organised crime, including of course financial crime.

Ironically, on the pretext of filling a “skills gap,” one of the first things the NCA did upon replacing the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), was sign up a force of unpaid bankers, accountants and lawyers — the very sectors harbouring the criminal economy — to ‘help’ the agency tackle cyber crime, drug-trafficking, fraud and corruption, among other crimes.

In July 2013, career police officer Nick Lewis, a senior director at SOCA who led law-enforcement engagement with US authorities on organised crime and drug-trafficking in the Caribbean, left the force. By the time SOCA had transitioned into the NCA, Lewis had landed a job in HSBC Group HQ’s Financial Crime Compliance unit as ‘global head of law enforcement liaison.’ His job, in other words, is liaising with his former police colleagues.

A cursory inspection of Lewis’ LinkedIn profile reveals that he is closely connected to, and has received multiple recommendations from, numerous incumbent senior law-enforcement officers at the NCA who should, in fact, be investigating HSBC, as well as active intelligence and law-enforcement officials from the US and Canada.

Although Nicholas Wilson reported his allegations of fraud to British police, they refused to investigate. I asked the NCA why they had failed to investigate the colossal allegations of HSBC fraud, which one would think would be a major priority for a law-enforcement agency whose entire remit is that sort of crime. I received no response.
No one’s too big to jail: what you can do

Nicholas Wilson’s revelations on HSBC fraud in Britain constitute the worst and largest single case of banking fraud to have ever emerged in this country. They make the Swiss leaks case look like peanuts. And yet their cause is something apparently mundane and routine: debt collection for high-street retailers.

The impunity with which the bank was able to carry out such fraud in cahoots with leading law firms, and the conspiracy of silence across regulators, law-enforcement agencies, and the media that has protected the bank’s reputation at home, underscores the truly colossal scale of corruption across powerful British institutions.

Governments may well be too co-opted to take action. Our ‘free media’ may be too pathetically subservient to corporate power to give the story the space it deserves.

But citizens aren’t.

Nicholas Wilson, who has blown the whistle on HSBC fraud at home, is not giving up. Last month, Wilson launched an unprecedented crowdfunding campaign to launch a private prosecution against HSBC and its lawyers for fraud and conspiracy to defraud. He is aiming to raise 100,000 pounds by 17th April to pay for barristers to take on the case.

If Wilson’s campaign succeeds, and he is able to launch his prosecution, the results could be dramatic. HSBC has never been prosecuted for its crimes — and certainly not for the UK component of its crimes against British consumers, which most of the captured British media have suppressed.

A successful prosecution against HSBC would not only help shut down the bank’s illegal activities in the UK and the US, but could open the way for citizens to bring a whole range of criminal prosecutions against dozens of financial institutions that, for far too long, have committed crimes against citizens in the comfortable belief that they are too big to jail.

You can be part of that movement to hold corrupt financiers to account, by supporting this citizen-led initiative for a criminal prosecution of HSBC’s fraud here.

Have you been a victim of debt collection fraud? Nicholas Wilson and I are teaming up to see if we can investigate the scale of debt collection fraud in the UK. Contact Wilson here with your story if you have been, or are being, defrauded by illegal over-charging.

Dr Nafeez Ahmed is an investigative journalist, bestselling author and international security scholar. A former Guardian writer, he writes the ‘System Shift’ column for VICE’s Motherboard, and is also a columnist for Middle East Eye. He is the winner of a 2015 Project Censored Award for Outstanding Investigative Journalism for his Guardian work.

Nafeez has also written for The Independent, Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, The Scotsman, Foreign Policy, The Atlantic, Quartz, Prospect, New Statesman, Le Monde diplomatique, New Internationalist, Counterpunch, Truthout, among others. He is the author of A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilization: And How to Save It (2010), and the scifi thriller novel ZERO POINT, among other books. His work on the root causes and covert operations linked to international terrorism officially contributed to the 9/11 Commission and the 7/7 Coroner’s Inquest.

This exclusive is being released for free in the public interest, and was enabled by crowdfunding. I’d like to thank my amazing community of patrons for their support, which gave me the opportunity to work on this in-depth investigation. If you appreciated this story, please support independent, investigative journalism for the global commons via Patreon.com, where you donate as much or as little as you like.

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