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UK: Top HSBC chiefs apologize for Swiss leaks scandal

"It clearly was unacceptable,” Stuart Gulliver, the Group Chief Executive of HSBC Holdings plc., has told British parliamentarians in London

25.02.2015
UK: Top HSBC chiefs apologize for Swiss leaks scandal

LONDON

Stuart Gulliver, the Group Chief Executive of HSBC Holdings plc., apologized to U.K. parliamentarians at the British parliament Wednesday for the Swiss Leaks scandal that unearthed secret bank accounts for notorious criminals and tax dodgers world over.

In a groundbreaking investigation dubbed Swiss Leaks carried out by The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists with help of journalists from 45 countries, it was revealed in early February that the bank’s actions had helped its clients place more than $100 billion in Swiss accounts to evade taxes.

"It clearly was unacceptable,” Gulliver told the parliamentarians during an appearance before U.K. parliament's Treasury Select Committee.

The banker admitted that the revelations had caused HSBC "damage to trust and confidence."

The U.K.-based Guardian newspaper said in a report Monday that Gulliver himself had sheltered millions of pounds in a Swiss account through a Panamanian company.

"Leaked files show that the Derby-born Gulliver...was also one of its clients, holding about £5m in a Swiss account," it said.

Group Chairman HSBC Holdings Douglas Flint also told British parliamentarians that he too felt ashamed over the incident.

According to The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, “HSBC Private Bank (Suisse) continued to offer services to clients who had been unfavorably named by the United Nations, in court documents and in the media as connected to arms trafficking, blood diamonds and bribery.”

“HSBC served those close to discredited regimes such as that of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, former Tunisian president Ben Ali and current Syrian ruler Bashar al-Assad,” it said.

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