Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/843/20084
HSBC tax evasion scandal
Take the wealth off the super-rich!
The super-rich live on a different planet to the rest of us. They go on several foreign holidays every quarter. While away, they visit the bank manager. They don't change any money in advance but draw it out while there - in the form of huge bundles of cash in a currency denomination of no use in the country they're in. And all the while using 'Captain Haddock' as an alias... Surely something fishy is going on?
Recent media revelations show that the private banking service offered to HSBC's Swiss account holders is more akin to advisor to a mafia don than to a traditional financial advisor. The leak shows that HSBC's Swiss bank helped clients conceal black accounts and dodge taxes all over the world.
At its peak, the Swiss bank held accounts worth $120 billion for 106,000 clients in 203 countries - including royals, celebrities, diamond smugglers and business leaders - and helped them conceal illegality with fake account names and untraceable foreign bank notes. Some of these clients have subsequently been convicted of tax-dodging offences and claimed that it was HSBC who told them to do it in the first place!
Although these revelations are being made public now, the information was leaked in 2007 and made available to governments in 2010. Of the 7,000 UK citizens on the list, only one has been prosecuted in five years.
The US, France, Belgium and Argentina started criminal investigations against HSBC last year - but the UK government shows no sign of action against the London-based bank. That may be due to the role played in the Tory Party by HSBC boss at the time - Stephen Green. Green was made a Conservative peer and minister of trade and investment eight months after the allegations were known by the government.
He is quoted by the BBC as saying: "As a matter of principle I will not comment on the business of HSBC past or present." He has a strange notion of principle, as this 'business' includes the 2011 admission that HSBC laundered money for Mexican drug cartels and the 2014 prosecution for Euribor fixing (inter-bank lending rates).
Labour has called for a public inquiry. But with Tristram Hunt, the shadow education minister, declaring that Labour is "furiously, passionately, aggressively pro-business", there is little chance that it would do anything to curb these excesses.
The billions held by HSBC in Switzerland, and all of the money held in other tax-havens around the globe, should be invested productively to provide jobs, services and a better quality of life for ordinary people.
Karl Marx explained that capitalists are rational misers, they invest money to make more, but misers are capitalists gone mad, they pile up cash out of greed alone.
These revelations show that the whole system has gone mad and needs to replaced. The Socialist Party is 'furiously, passionately, aggressively' in favour of the 99% - not the 1%.
In The Socialist 11 February 2015:
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