Sympathy Level: Zero

I hope HSBC gets fined out of existence:

Britain’s biggest bank helped wealthy clients cheat the UK out of millions of pounds in tax, the BBC has learned.

Panorama has seen thousands of accounts from HSBC’s private bank in Switzerland leaked by a whistleblower in 2007.

They show bankers helped clients evade tax and offered deals to help tax dodgers stay ahead of the law.

HSBC admitted that some individuals took advantage of bank secrecy to hold undeclared accounts. But it said it has now “fundamentally changed”.

Not that I have anything against British citizens opening offshore bank accounts (I have two myself, as the article makes clear they are not illegal and there are genuine reasons for having one), nor do I think the whistleblower was performing any kind of public service (indeed, I think he should be filled in), and nor do I care for HMRC or anyone engaging in illegal tax evasion.

But what pisses me off beyond belief is the pompous, self-righteous posturing of British high street banks who make normal people jump through umpteen petty bureaucratic hoops at their own expense in order to carry out ordinary transactions or to open an account, all in the name of preventing money laundering or tax evasion.  Most of what they ask you to do (e.g. present a notarised copy of your passport) is at their own discretion, and not a legal requirement.  Yet this doesn’t stop some spotty twerp in a flammable suit pompously telling you “it’s the law” when you query whether it’s really necessary to take a day off work and visit a random solicitor just to submit a mortgage application form to a bank with whom you hold an account already.

However, if you’re some dodgy Nigerian with a suitcase full of cash, a Mexican drug cartel, or what is being called “a wealthy client” then it’s “step right this way, sir”.

Lock ’em up and throw away the key, bunch of fuckers.

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6 thoughts on “Sympathy Level: Zero

  1. The HSBC are merely continuing their foundation value of massive profiteering from criminal activity that was originally incepted with the opium drug trade and mass addiction promotion. Having been giving the run around with them in recent times whilst opening various business accounts in various countries I must admit that once you are in their business products are quite innovative and competitive.

    They actually required that we submit proof of address for a major shareholder as a hold point in opening one of our accounts. This dude lives in palaces and doesn’t have electrical bills with his address on them, plus we weren’t going to ask him for anything either and told them that. It took the head of credit risk London to relax this requirement to open our account and so far so good. I may even open a personal account with them due to their impressive cutting edge approach.

  2. I suspect the impact of money-laundering regulations on banks’ relationships with non-rich, non-laundering customers is much the same wherever these regulations are introduced.

  3. Last year when visiting folks in the UK we went for a pre booked appointment to open a joint expat account, having gathered all of the necessary paperwork. Once we’d disclosed that we were based in Burma they wouldn’t take it any further; disappointing but fair enough.

    It was only as we left the that we took notice of the enormous display in the branch window showing one of their trite global banking slogans and a ten foot panorama of a Buddhist monk overlooking the Bagan Temple Complex. Guess where that is?

  4. @Bardon:

    They actually required that we submit proof of address for a major shareholder as a hold point in opening one of our accounts. This dude lives in palaces and doesn’t have electrical bills with his address on them, plus we weren’t going to ask him for anything either and told them that.

    Heh!

  5. @General Pinochet,

    It was only as we left the that we took notice of the enormous display in the branch window showing one of their trite global banking slogans and a ten foot panorama of a Buddhist monk overlooking the Bagan Temple Complex. Guess where that is?

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