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Summary

  1. HSBC helped clients dodge tax, according to documents
  2. Greek PM to continue with austerity reversal
  3. Labour proposes paternity leave extension

Live Reporting

By Ben Morris

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Ben Morris

Business Reporter

That's it from the new extended Business live page. Today we focused on the HSBC tax scandal. If you want more,

watch Panorama at 20:30 tonight on BBC One. We will return to our usual briefing of business news tomorrow from 06:00. So do come back and thanks to all those who got in touch today.

Complicated cases

BBC News Channel

The tax statute is so complicated that it is hard for a layman to grasp the issues, says Fiona Fernie, head of tax investigations at law firm Pinsent Masons on the

News Channel. So it can be hard to prosecute such cases before a jury, she says. That's why it can be more efficient to pursue civil settlements.

Via Email

'Enough is enough'

Stewart Docherty

Live page reader

"I am furious. Enough is enough. At a time of austerity when peoples benefits are getting cut and we are all getting less social and civil provision, it is yet again those that have that are getting away with it, aided by the banks in defrauding the public of legitimate taxes while the public continues to bail them out! Social responsibility and social equality are the biggest issues we face today."

Luxembourg warning

Radio 5 live

Sue Shelley was HSBC Luxembourg's chief compliance officer until 2013, when she was dismissed. She had raised concern over the bank's practices in Luxembourg. People ignored and buried her warnings over compliance, she says on

Radio 5 live. She raised specific cases as well as some "fairly systemic problems". So she is "not surprised in the least"
over the new revelations from Switzerland.

'Incredible' range

Radio 5 live

"There has never been anything like this," says Richard Bilton from Panorama on

Radio 5 live. He has been covering the HSBC tax scandal story. "The range is incredible ... pop stars, royalty, housewives, students, dentists, doctors," he says. He says the tax evasion was "reasonably straight forward".

Market update

FTSE 100
BBC

The

FTSE 100 finished the day with modest losses.
Shire was the biggest loser, shares in the drug maker closed almost 3.5% lower. Shares in miners were the biggest winners.
Fresnillo added 4% and
Glencore closed 3.8% higher.

HSBC shares

HSBC shares
BBC

HSBC shares closed 1.8% lower. But it was generally a negative day for banking shares.
Lloyds Banking Group fell 1.1% and
Barclays lost 0.7%.

House of Commons question

The debate over HSBC tax avoidance is over. I'm not sure we learned much knew. Treasury Minister David Gauke ducked the questions about Lord Green and what he knew about tax avoidance when he was in charge at HSBC. Labour is demanding a statement from Lord Green.

Via Twitter

Louise Cooper

Financial Analyst, CooperCity blog

How bad does it need to get before someone ends up in prison. so far just fines paid for by shareholders.

House of Commons question

A Labour MP asks if HMRC or the cabinet secretary interviewed Lord Green over the tax scandal at any time. David Gauke is "not aware" of any interviews.

House of Commons question

One conservative MP asks whether HSBC should have a banking licence given its involvement in previous scandals and problems. David Gauke says that's up to the regulators, but "it really is important that the banking industry gets its house in order".

Via Twitter

Nick Robinson

Political editor

"Treasury Minister David Gauke keeps avoiding q re what ministers knew re HSBC tax allegations before Green made Lord & minister. Treasury & HMRC refusing to say whether evidence re HSBC passed on to ministers in May '10 BUT much more known then than in 2007"

House of Commons question

Financial Secretary to the Treasury David Gauke ducks a Labour question on what due diligence was done when Lord Green was appointed trade minister. He says: "There are clearly questions about what went on at HSBC between 2005 and 2007." But repeats that Lord Green was a "very successful" trade minister.

Liberal Democrat response

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander
PA

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said: "Financial institutions who are proven to have colluded with tax evaders should face the full force of the law. We need to work with HMRC and regulators to make sure that they have all the legal and regulatory tools to tackle such situations. If that means a change in the law, or new powers for regulators, that is what we will do."

House of Commons question

Labour's Dennis Skinner says that thousands of HMRC staff are examining benefits fraud, but only 300 are examining tax fraud. The Treasury's David Guake says his numbers are wrong.

House of Commons question

David Gauke defends the HMRC. He says there has been a full investigation of 1,000 cases resulting from the HSBC scandal. Those investigations led to the recovery of £135m.

House of Commons question

Labour puts pressure on former HSBC boss Lord Green who became trade minister. Labour's Shabana Mahmood demands an "immediate statement" from Lord Green and a full explanation of his role at HSBC and his knowledge of the scandal. She also asks if the government sought any information from Lord Green before he was appointed trade minister.

House of Commons question

More from David Gauke says HMRC is examining whether it has "all the same data" as ICRJ (the organisatin which recieved the whistle blower's information).

House of Commons question

Treasury Minister David Gauke answers a Labour question on the HSBC tax scandal. He says HMRC has looked to collect the tax and fine evaders. He says that approach has been "very successful". HMRC has sought prosecution for "serial tax evaders".

Via Email

HSBC scandal

Paul Rettey

Live page reader

"Heads of organisation ARE responsible for what the organisation does. This is WHY they are paid enormous amounts of money, if they aren't responsible they shouldn't be paid the vast sums. Since the reward mechanism is geared toward massive profits for the bank and therefore heads of organisations likewise are rewarded for this performance, then it makes perfect sense that they gun for as much as they can."

Civil recovery

BBC News Channel

The BBC's legal affairs correspondent, Clive Coleman, says that the HMRC has not had a great track record when it comes to prosecuting over tax evasion. It has often taken another route called civil recovery. That involves the accused paying back all the tax and a fine, which can by 200% of the original amount.

House of Commons question

Houses of Parliament
PA

Just a reminder that at 15:30 Labour's Shabana Mahmood will ask an urgent question in the House of Commons about the HSBC scandal. Treasury Minister David Gauke will answer the question on behalf of the Chancellor. To watch, click on the Live Coverage tab at the top the Business live page.

Via Email

HMRC response

"We have systematically worked through all the Lagarde data. As a result tax, interest and penalties have now been paid by those who hid their assets in Switzerland to get out of paying tax. The decision to prosecute is made by the Crown Prosecution Service based on the facts."

Why so few prosecuted?

BBC News Channel

Tessa Lorimer, a tax litigation expert, explains why almost no one has been prosecuted over the HSBC tax scandal. Before 2013 it was "very difficult" to get information from abroad, she says. But now it is easier and HMRC will be gathering more information from overseas to see if prosecutions can go ahead.

How did it happen?

Chris Roebuck

Cass Business School

"No one seriously thinks that Stephen Green, the CEO of HSBC at the time, a lay preacher in the Church of England and former Government trade minister, would have sanctioned any illegal activity. So how did it happen ? The likely reason is that lower down the organisation someone, in an attempt to deliver their financial targets and please customers, overstepped the mark and did something they shouldn't have done."

Prime Minister comments

Prime Minister David Cameron
PA

The Prime Minister has commented on the appointment of former HSBC chief Lord Green as trade minister: "Stephen Green was an excellent trade minister, he did a good job, but I would also add that no Government has done more than this one to crack down on tax evasion and regressive tax avoidance. I put it absolutely at the head of my G8 agenda to make sure there's more tax transparency, the big companies pay their taxes properly and that we raise money from people previously evading and avoiding taxes and we will go on doing that as a Government."

Via Email

'Revolving door'

Jeremy Macleod

Live page reader

"The revolving door between big business, banks, consultancies and government is exactly why these things happen in the first place, it was the same under Labour, with the ridiculous, catch all excuse being that only tax consultants with close connections to their banking and business chums are qualified to make new tax policy and enforce the law. Anyone at HMRC who actually does a good job chasing people down is offered absurd sums to jump across to KPMG or a big bank, which removes the threat."

Via Email

'Particularly damning'

"The HSBC case is quite different from other recent tax scandals," says Prof Crawford Spence of Warwick Business School, who researches tax avoidance. "HSBC has been complicit in clear tax evasion and law breaking rather than legitimate tax avoidance. The latest details to emerge from the Public Accounts Committee are also particularly damning for the UK tax authorities, HMRC. It appears that we need to rely on computer hackers, investigative journalists and corporate whistleblowers to expose tax evasion."

Arrest warrants?

More woe for HSBC today, as the judge in charge of a Belgian investigation into the Swiss private banking arm of HSBC is considering issuing an international arrest warrant for the group's directors because they are not cooperating, a prosecution spokeswoman said. Belgium charged the unit with tax fraud and money laundering in November, accusing the bank of offering diamond dealers and other wealthy clients in Belgium ways of hiding cash and evading tax, Reuters reported. A spokesperson for HSBC private bank in Switzerland was not immediately available for comment.

How many housewives?

Fran Hunter and Mohammad Mirbashiri, BBC Monitoring

Housewife?
Thinkstock

This gem from Spanish news site

El Confidencial's coverage of the HSBC scandal: "More than half on the list are men, but the most common profession listed on bank details is 'housewife' - a term that is also used with unusual frequency on other countries' lists and which is not only used to describe married women, but also businesswomen, architects and even princesses."

In his own words

BBC Radio 4

Stephen Green
Getty Images

The World at One dusts off an old interview with former HSBC boss Lord Green, who is also an ordained priest. We hear him telling Shaun Ley that "the profit motive alone is not enough as a guide for human behaviour".

Commons question

David Gauke
Getty Images

As George Osborne is in Istanbul, the government statement on the HSBC scandal is likely to be handled by Treasury minister David Gauke.

EU commission on HSBC

Nigel Cassidy

BBC News

EU Commission
Getty Images

"A spokesman told the midday meeting that action has been taken at EU and global level to combat tax evasion, to improve transparency and increase exchange of information between tax administrations. The EU and Switzerland forged an agreement on the taxation of savings in 2004. That agreement is now being revised to broaden its scope. It will come into force by 2018 at the latest and will put an end to the use of secret bank accounts."

Via Twitter

Ed Balls' questions

Ed Balls
Getty Images

Ed Balls, has

tweeted a link to questions that George Osborne and David Cameron "need to answer today on HSBC, tax evasion & Lord Green".

HSBC: PM's spokesman

Asked if David Cameron now regretted appointing Lord Green, the PM's spokesman said: "Absolutely not. The PM's view hasn't changed, Lord Green was an excellent minister."

Via Twitter

Paul Waugh, editor of PoliticsHome.com

Speaker has gone for it. Urgent Commons Question granted to @ShabanaMahmood asking for statement from Chancellor on HSBC 3.30pm

Swiss bank accounts

Zurich
Thinkstock

Although the HSBC story revolves around money held in Swiss bank accounts, we should point out that simply having a Swiss account does not make the holder guilty of tax evasion. So when is it acceptable to have a Swiss bank account? Read

this useful guide by the BBC's Brian Milligan.

HSBC: PM's spokesperson

David Cameron's spokesperson has said that the prime minister never discussed the issue with Lord Green, adding: "Tax evasion is always wrong. Rightly HMRC pursues and looks into and investigates cases where there are concerns and it must always do that. Robustly and forcefully. Tax evasions and aggressive tax avoidance is always wrong."

'Tighter regulation'

Lobby group Global Witness has called for tighter banking regulation and criminal penalties for senior executives responsible for serious failings to prevent any similar cases in the future. "These repeat offences show just how far Britain's biggest bank has been willing to go to help clients hide their money and its origins. We need real action against individual executives when then intentionally seek to subvert the law," said Robert Palmer, head of the anti-money laundering campaign at Global Witness.

Via Twitter

Patrick Wintour, political editor of the Guardian

Labour has asked Treasury to make a Commons statement with regard to HSBC. George Osborne on way to Turkey for G20 meeting.