Today it was announced that the Swiss branch of banking giant HSBC could face criminal prosecution in the French courts. From 2010 the UK Government possessed details of over 6000 names of people who were British based, or ‘non-doms’, and included on the leaked HSBC list of account holders that had secret bank accounts in Switzerland. During the period of which these accounts were held Stephen Green headed HSBC’s Swiss bank and, controversially, was later appointed to advise the British Conservative Government on trade. This ‘revolving door’ between British Government (including the House of Lords) and HSBC was by no means a one-off…
[Note: The French financial state prosecutor has requested that HSBC’s Swiss private bank be sent to criminal trial over a suspected tax-dodging scheme for wealthy customers. The recommendation follows a lengthy investigation by local magistrates into alleged tax fraud involving 3,000 French taxpayers and is a procedural step that brings the Swiss banking arm one step closer to a possible trial in France.]
In September 2010 it was announced that after 28 years of working for HSBC – including as Chief Executive, then Chairman from 2003 to 2010 – Stephen Green would join the UK’s Conservative–Liberal Democrat coalition government in early 2011 as Minister of State for Trade and Investment, albeit in an unpaid capacity. In November 2010 he was created a life peer (Baron Green of Hurstpierpoint) – see more, below.
But Green was only one of several persons who were either senior HSBC director and subsequently appointed to Government or to Parliament, or began in Government or Whitehall and then appointed to HSBC. Here are the names of those known so far who made use of this HSBC/Government ‘revolving door’:
- UK Life Peer Frederick Butler – Lord Butler of Brockwell – was appointed as Treasury official and Cabinet Secretary and was a Non-Executive of HSBC Holdings plc from 1998 to 2008;
- UK Life Peer Lydia Dunn – Baroness Dunn of Hong Kong Island and Knightsbridge – was a Director of HSBC Holdings plc from 1981 to 2008;
- Rachel Lomax was appointed Non-Executive director of HSBC in December 2008 and before that was Permanent Secretary at the UK Government Departments for Transport and Work and Pensions and the Welsh Office from 1996 to 2003; she was also was Deputy Governor, Monetary Stability, at the Bank of England and member of the Monetary Policy Committee until June 2008;
- Sir Roderic Lyne, the former Ambassador to Moscow, was appointed an Advisor to HSBC in December 2004;
- UK Life Peer Robert May – Baron May of Oxford – was appointed a paid member of HSBC’s Corporate Social Responsibility Board;
- HSBC employee Nick Stephens was seconded to the Department for Trade and Industry from 2001 to 2003 to work as an Export Promoter;
- Nicholas Stern – Lord Stern of Brentford – was the former Head of Government Economic Service at HM Treasury and an advisor to the Cabinet Office and was later appointed an Advisor to the Chairman of HSBC Holdings plc.
- Rona Fairhead – was a board member and a non-Executive director of HSBC since 2004 (and the Chair of HSBC’s Audit & Risk Committee). In September 2014 she was also appointed as Chair of the BBC Trust (in tandem with her HSBC position)
- Lord Stephen Green, former group chairman, now a British Conservative politician and former minister of state for Trade and Investment in both the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (appointed 11 January 2011 until 2014).
To explore the HSBC Swiss accounts files, click here.
See also lots more articles on HSBC files and fallout.