Gulliver is the “right person” to run HSBC – even though his tax affairs damaged the bank’s reputation

Banking boss appears in front of select committee

Stuart Gulliver, group CEO of HSBC, maintains he’s the right person to lead the troubled bank, despite admitting his personal tax affairs had further damaged the company’s reputation.

An investigation is currently underway into accusations that HSBC helped private wealth clients dodge taxes using its Swiss banking arm, with a further accusation Gulliver was one of these clients.

Giving evidence in front of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) for the second time in three weeks, Gulliver said he’d tried to convince people the reason for his offshore account wasn’t to avoid tax, and in fact he had complied with tax laws.

However, he admitted he thought his involvement in the tax evasion scandal had added to the bank’s increasingly poor reputation.

He said: “I would agree with you that it has caused reputational damage to the bank in some quarters.”

However, he maintained he was the “right person” to lead the bank, adding: “I am committed to finishing what I began five years ago in a firm I’ve served for 35 years.”

“Incompetent”

Meanwhile, HSBC executives were accused of incompetence after claiming they knew nothing about the Swiss bank’s tax evasion activities.

The former head of HSBC’s private banking division said he had no idea what staff “were up to”.

PAC chair Margaret Hodge said: “Either you’re completely incompetent in your oversight duties or you knew about it.”

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