Tuesday, February 10, 2015

‘As far as HSBC is concerned, money has no smell’

As if laundering vast sums of drug money for dubious Mexican drug cartels wasn’t enough, HSBC has been exposed for having been up to its dirty old tricks again?

What tricks? Well you name it – running dodgy accounts in Switzerland for British criminals to start with. 

British criminals I hear you ask?

Yes British tax evaders, who used the genteel facilities provided by HSBC – money launderers to the rich and powerful - to stash their loot away in Switzerland without the embarrassment of having to disclose it to the British tax authorities.

But surely, HSBC must have known, or at least suspected that they were being used to facilitate tax fraud, conspiring with others to cheat and defraud the revenue, isn’t that a criminal offence?

And if they knew or suspected that the money they were transferring was for the purposes of evading tax, were they not obliged by law to disclose the same to the UK authorities?

Oh they knew alright, they even gave one client at least a credit card so he could remove money from a foreign bank account!

But you see, like all banks, HSBC have never ever bothered to get too engaged about the provenance of the money they handle. British banks have for years, got away with not asking any unnecessary questions, on the basis that their role is to handle money of all kinds, and money is well.....just money!

Bernie Cornfeld, the old offshore investment guru is believed to have coined the phrase ‘money has no smell’, referring to his willingness to accept money from any source!
Other sources trace the phrase to the Roman Emperor Vespasian who imposed a Urine Tax on the distribution of urine from public urinals in Rome's (great sewer) system. The urine collected from public urinals was sold as an ingredient for several chemical processes. The buyers of the urine paid the tax.

The Roman historian Seutonius reports that when Vespasian's son Titus complained about the disgusting nature of the tax, his father held up a gold coin and asked whether he felt offended by its smell When Titus said "No," he replied, "Yet it comes from urine" 

The phrase Pecunia non olet is still used to say that the value of money is not tainted by its origins, but of course, we have changed considerably since those early days, and now we are required to give a significant amount of time to being able to determine the provenance of the money that comes into our possession.

Well, that’s the theory anyway, but of course, as I have tried to demonstrate in a number of my blogs, the big banks conveniently ignore these provisions wherever it suits them! I have been repeatedly saying that the big banks are nothing short of organised criminal enterprises, or ‘Mafias’ if you prefer, gangs of criminals who have found a lot of ways of enriching themselves while helping to defraud the Revenue, and cheating the UK out of important taxes which are needed to help to make up the fiscal shortfall caused by the need to bail out the criminal banksters when they ran out of money after their criminal activities got the better of them!

Well have a look at ‘Vox Political’ on the web and see how they refer to this latest scandal.

“...HSBC Bank has been helping thousands of wealthy clients to evade hundreds of millions of pounds worth of tax. A nice dodge for the clients – and a nice earner for the bank!

This is a routine offence of conspiracy to defraud the revenue. It is not enough for the bank to say that they were only providing facilities for their high net worth clients to enjoy offshore banking secrecy, meanwhile turning a Nelsonian blind eye to the possible provenance of the money!

This is old fashioned criminality, and it is old news. HM Revenue and Customs was made aware of HSBC’s tax-avoiding practices in 2010, but from more than 7,000 British clients, the UK government has prosecuted just one person, despite having identified 1,100 tax cheats.. Didn’t George Osborne say there would be “no safe haven” for these people? 

Well he did, but then George says a lot of things he doesn’t always mean. Possibly what George meant was that these people would be investigated by HMRC and forced to repay the tax owed – that is maybe what he will say he meant – but that ain’t how ordinary people read the phrase, and they believe that people who resolutely cheat the Revenue need to spend a little time doing porridge!

The man in charge of HSBC at the time was Stephen Green. He gave up being chairman of the bank in December 2010, in order to become a Conservative peer and minister of state for trade and investment in January 2011. 

When confronted with evidence of the allegations, Lord Tax Evasion Facilitator of Green told Panorama: “As a matter of principle I will not comment on the business of HSBC past or present.” 

What kind of principle is that then, Lord Tax Cheat Adviser? 

Client confidentiality is a bit ripe when the client can be shown to be breaking the law, and when the bank can be shown to have aided and abetted that criminality, and we deserve a little more from Lord Fiddlepocket Consultant than a bland statement of theoretical principle!

This man was the top man at a bank which was offering thousands or British tax payers a facility to cheat the Revenue, and he needs to be brought to justice, along with his dodgy bank.

CNN Money Report identifies how the global banking giant HSBC for years “...catered to a motley crew of weapons dealers, tax evaders, tin-pot dictators and celebrities, using its private Swiss arm to shield accounts worth more than $100 billion....”

Documents obtained and analyzed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) reveal how HSBC used the secretive Swiss banking system to conceal the identities of account holders, and in many cases, help depositors avoid paying taxes. 

ICIJ's findings are based on data turned over to French authorities by former HSBC employee Hervé Falciani in 2008. The files were later obtained by the newspaper Le Monde and shared among other media outlets. 

ICIJ said the leaked documents show that HSBC "repeatedly reassured clients that it would not disclose details of accounts to national authorities" and even "discussed with clients a range of measures that would ultimately allow clients to avoid paying taxes in their home countries." 

Only HSBC knows how much they earned by way of fees for providing these criminal services.

In a typical piece of weasel worded PR-speak, the bank said that “...its Swiss private bank has undergone a "radical transformation in recent years," including reforms that will make it more difficult for clients to evade taxes or launder money...” 

"...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 statement said. 

Well, to quote another great whore, Mandy Rice-Davies, “...They would say that wouldn’t they...”

All this is all very well, but what thousands of people are now asking is when will the UK Government bring criminal charges against the bank, its senior officials responsible at the time, including Lord Closed-lips of Say-nothing, for running a deliberately criminal enterprise?

This is a case which the SFO could have ready to run within a few weeks. The evidence of the bank accounts is already in the public domain, and it is not disputed that HSBC were organising the scam. A selected number of examples of such activity, put together in a schedule, could be quickly adopted to form the basis of the charges against the accused.
The primary witnesses should be the tax cheats themselves – they could be prosecuted and offered some form of sentence mitigation in return for giving evidence against HSBC.

The HSBC personnel should be arrested quickly and invited to make statements. Their lawyers will of course remind them to say nothing, and these cases could then be put before the Old Bailey.

I have little doubt in saying that an ordinary jury, properly directed would have little difficulty in convicting the defendants on all counts.

And that is just the problem.

This is the devil in the detail that has been preventing the Government from bringing such charges against bankers and other City Mafiosi for many years. Ever since the ease and simplicity of the jury’s decisions in the Blue Arrow case back in the late 1980s, when a number of very high-flying bankers were convicted of fraud in a take-over case, the British Establishment has run very scared of allowing any City-type crimes to be reported to the Police and prosecuted as ordinary criminal offences.

How much longer can we, the ordinary people of this country, go on watching the rich and the connected, getting away with very serious offences of criminality, without the prosecuting agencies doing anything about it?

Tax cheats are no different from benefit cheats, they are happy to take all the benefits that this country has to offer, but they don’t want to make a fair contribution towards their provision. The only difference is that benefit cheats routinely go to jail, tax cheats don’t, but it’s about time they and their banking facilitators, did!


Bame Duniya said...

Thank you. Well spoken. But, I fear even the long and much suffering public is bothered for long by such preposterous examples of depraved plunder.

Nevertheless you are doing a good job of informing people.

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