For years, Bank of America was our number one source for stories about bank fraud, bad corporate behavior and greed. Like a pirate nation ruled by corrupt warlords, the population (bank employees) are basically wonderful people but much of the bank’s leadership is rotten to the core. Lately, however, we think HSBC may have pushed Bank of America down a notch on the banking wall of shame.
Use the search feature on our blog and you will find story after story about HSBC. Unfortunately, none of them are flattering. With trillions of dollars in assets, offices in scores of countries and hundreds of thousands of employees, it appears that the bank’s board of directors and risk management team has lost all control of the ship.
Normally, we would make the same statement about HSBC CEO Stuart Gulliver but recent allegations suggest that he is one of the worst pirates on the ship.
In prior posts we have suggested that Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan and JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon are simply bumbling puppets. They probably genuinely care about their customers and the bank’s role in the community but they simply lack the strength to change the rancid corporate culture that infects certain parts of their banks.
So what about Stuart Gulliver? Just a few weeks ago he was profusely apologizing to the public and the bank’s shareholders about HSBC Switzerland’s actions of helping clients evade taxes. While the bank was publicly claiming to cooperate with authorities its Swiss bankers were actually helping wealthy clients hide monies from the IRS and other tax authorities.
At this point, some might say that Gulliver is in the same boat as Moynihan and Dimon, another victim of banks that have simply become to too big to manage. Think he is innocent? New disclosures this month suggest that Gulliver himself had stashed millions of his own money in a secret account in Panama.
Three weeks ago, Gulliver took out ads in several newspapers telling the world that HSBC was sorry for its actions. He said the bank’s practices in helping clients hide money were a “source of shame”. Now it turns out that Gulliver’s own actions should be an even bigger source of shame.
Fortune magazine reports that Gulliver is a Hong Kong resident for tax purposes. Once upon a time he actually lived in Asia. In 2011 after becoming HSBC’s CEO he moved to London. Many are now wondering why he isn’t paying taxes there. We wonder why he hid money in a Panamanian nominee account. Panama is one of the worst pirate nations and common banking destination of tax evaders
Credibility starts with leadership. A few weeks ago we were willing to listen to Gulliver’s apology. We hoped that HSBC had turned the corner and that the apology was sincere. In our opinion, however, his words now ring hollow.
The bank has been rocked by several major scandals and we suspect it will continue to suffer the same fate until the bank’s board of directors and regulators clean house. Hopefully a very deep clean.
Usually we write about American banks but U.S. laws allow people anywhere in the world to file whistleblower complaints. If the actions of HSBC have hurt the U.S. government or violate U.S. tax and securities laws, there may be whistleblower award money available.
Last year we helped two whistleblowers collect over $100,000,000.00 in whistleblower award money. Obviously, not every award is that large but HSBC is in the big leagues so large awards are possible.
Think you have what it takes? Give us a call. All inquiries are protected by the attorney – client privilege and kept confidential.
MahanyLaw – America’s Whistleblower Lawyers