Government claims that Lord Green was unaware of possible wrongdoing by HSBC’s Geneva branch were undermined by public filings revealing that the Tory peer had been on the board of HSBC’s Swiss banking unit for a decade.
Hervé Falciani, the HSBC employee who leaked thousands of the bank’s documents in 2007, told Newsweek that Lord Green “came to Geneva to present the world strategy at the time [the allegations took place]” and therefore “knew perfectly well” of “every problem” at the branch. HSBC’s Geneva branch has been accused of helping clients to evade tax by opening “black” accounts in their name and allowing them to withdraw huge “bricks” of cash.
Regulators in several countries, but not Britain, have opened investigations into the bank and some have signalled that criminal charges may follow.
A spokesman for Mr Cameron initially insisted that “no government minister”, including Lord Green, “had any knowledge that HSBC may have been involved in wrongdoing in relation to its Swiss banking arm”.
The statement was modified yesterday afternoon to say only that the government had “no record” that any minister had been made aware of such wrongdoing by Revenue & Customs.
An analysis of public filings reveals that Lord Green sat on the board of HSBC’s Swiss Private Bank for ten years — making him directly responsible for ensuring that the subsidiary complied with all applicable laws.This will run and run.