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Summary

  1. HMRC officials questioned over HSBC scandal
  2. Sky shares slump after Premier League rights deal
  3. Profits fall at media giant Time Warner

Live Reporting

By Ben Morris

All times stated are UK

Get involved

Ben Morris

Business Reporter

That's it from the Business live page today. But come back tomorrow - it's promising to be eventful. We'll get the latest results from Manchester United, plus the quarterly inflation report from the Bank of England and much more. We'll be here from 06:00.

Greek euro exit?

World Service

Greece euro coin
Getty Images

"The only solution is exiting the euro, having its own highly devalued currency and trying to struggle along in the world," respected US economist Irwin Stelzer tells World Business Report about Greece's situation. "It (Greece) can't possibly become internationally competitive when its currency is set by as efficient an economy as Germany," he says.

Via Blog

Kamal Ahmed

BBC Business editor

HMRC has now revealed it is looking to expand the scope of its investigation and is meeting other law enforcement agencies later this week. Sources tell me that HMRC is likely to meet both the Serious Fraud Office and the police. Jennie Grainger, HMRC's director general of enforcement, told MPs that they wanted to "collaborate" with other agencies.

Via Blog

Robert Peston

Economics editor

Baltic blues will be seized on as supporting evidence by those worried we are entering a new and depressed era of deflation. So you and I can presumably hope that Governor Carney cheers us up tomorrow with the Bank of England three-monthly inflation report and economic health check.

HSBC tax scandal

BBC Radio 4

"We got a glimpse today of a tax authority that doesn't want to prosecute the most serious tax evaders," said Richard Brooks, a tax inspector and now a journalist for Private Eye.

He watched the questioning of HMRC officials by MPs today for Radio 4's PM. He said the main thing we learnt was that
whistleblower Herve Falciani emailed tax authorities in March 2008 offering to to supply them with all the details.

Market update

FTSE 100
BBC

Shares in

Tullow Oil were the biggest losers on the
FTSE 100, falling 7.3%. Tullow reported its first annual loss in 15 years and scrapped its final dividend payment. Computer chip designer
ARM rose almost 3% after reporting a 25% rise in quarterly profit. The FTSE 100 ended with a modest loss of 14 points, its fourth consecutive losing session.

Via Email

Greece and the euro

Jonathan Loynes

Chief European Economist, Capital Economics

"While Greece has achieved a significant improvement in its competitiveness, it probably needs much more to sustain healthy economic growth and avoid deep deflation. With continued euro membership implying years of further painful internal devaluation, the alternative of a much weaker new drachma has some clear attractions."

Ken Clarke on Greece

Greek parliament
Reuters

Will Greece leave the euro? "Behind the scenes, saner voices will produce an acceptable solution, but I'm not very optimistic just reading what's been publicly said." That's what Ken Clarke, former Tory cabinet minister, told the BBC's Rob Young. Eurozone finance ministers

are holding an emergency meeting shortly to hear an alternative debt plan from Greece.

Market update

Dow Industrials
BBC

US shares are trading a bit lower, although above the lowest levels for the session. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 0.22%. Caterpillar is down 1.7% and Nike is down 1.5%. Those two are the biggest losers among the

Dow Industrials.

MPs question HMRC

The Public Accounts Committee has moved away from the HSBC tax scandal and on to more general tax issues, so we'll leave them for now. But if you want more,

it's available at www.parliament.uk. They are currently talking about how the HMRC responds to telephone calls.

Greek bailout

BBC World News

Professor Markus Kerber
BBC

Professor Markus Kerber,

who in 2011 tried and failed to get the bailouts of Greece, Ireland and Portugal declared illegal told World Business Report: "The German Finance minister has clearly stated that if the Greeks don't come back to reason then it will be over. The Greek government gave us the impression that they are not extremely serious about honouring their debt. Their behaviour is the behaviour of someone from whom you would not buy a second hand car."

Via Twitter

Kamal Ahmed

BBC Business editor

Lin Homer says that money laundering evidence is now being investigated following leak of HSBC tax data #swissleaks

MPs question HMRC

Why did you not tell the Prime Minister about HSBC's behaviour in relation to Lord Green's appointment? asks Margaret Hodge. (Lord Green became trade minister after being chairman of HSBC). Lin Homer says there was information "in the public domain" about HSBC, but when dealing with official appointments it usually only gives information about an individual's tax affairs.

MPs question HMRC

Public Accounts Committee
BBC

BBC business online

already has an article on the heated exchanges at the Public Accounts Committee over the HSBC tax scandal.

MPs question HMRC

Lin Homer is asked about the industry surrounding tax avoidance. "Marketed tax avoidance is reducing," she says. She has "no doubt" that it's better paid to work in tax avoidance than for HMRC.

Via Twitter

Kamal Ahmed

BBC Business editor

PAC vs HMRC: we now know - 150 HSBC files were possible prosecutions, 3 sent to CPS, 1 case taken, HMRC now involving other agencies

Via Twitter

Kamal Ahmed

BBC Business editor

Jenny Grainger, HMRC: "We are not taking this lightly, we are not soft."

MPs question HMRC

Margaret Hodge, MP
BBC

Margaret Hodge is fired-up! "The worst that can happen, if HMRC can be bothered to catch up with you, is that you may have to pay. You won't have a prosecution, you won't have any shame, you won't be an example to anybody else. You'll get away with it. That's a terrible message to get out to British taxpayers."

MPs question HMRC

Conservative MP Chris Heaton-Harris says the lack of prosecutions sends the wrong message - potential tax evaders will be confident that they can get away with a settlement. Lin Homer says prosecutions are important. But she does not believe they are the only deterrent or cost-effective. She says a poster campaign has been effective.

MPs question HMRC

"There is a suggestion that everyone else has been more prolific than us," says Lin Homer. "Only we and the Irish have convicted anybody," she says.

MPs question HMRC

Committee chair Margaret Hodge insists that in 2008 whistleblower Herve Falciani did email HMRC offering the data from HSBC's Swiss bank.

Via Twitter

Kamal Ahmed

BBC Business editor

Margaret Hodge to Lin Homer: "You should have talked to Herve Falciani" - the original whistle blower on HSBC & tax evasion

MPs question HMRC

HMRC chief executive Lin Homer
BBC

"I can feel your anger, Chair" says HMRC boss Lin Homer to Margaret Hodge. That pretty much sums it up so far.

MPs question HMRC

Was HMRC offered the data by whistle blower

Herve Falciani in 2008? Lin Homer says that when he escaped from Switzerland there was a period of negotiation between him and French authorities. After that French tax officials started discussion with their British counterparts.

Norman Smith, BBC assistant political editor

@BBCNormanS

tweets: Take cover. HMRC boss Lin Homer getting a battering from
@margarethodge at Public Accounts Committee

MPs question HMRC

Much more of this information has appeared in recent days and it will be pursued says Lin Homer.

MPs question HMRC

Margaret Hodge says the French and Spanish had far fewer names to investigate, yet received more money back in tax. Lin Homer says that only two thirds of the accounts had tax due.

MPs question HMRC

In a slightly bad tempered start to the hearings Lin Homer, Chief Executive of HM Revenue and Customs, says that it takes an average of 44 months to organise a tax evasion prosecution with the Crown Prosecution Service. That's nearly four years, in case your maths isn't up to tax inspector standards.

MPs question HMRC

Lin Homer gives a long winded description of what HMRC did when it received the so-called Lagarde documents in 2010. They have reached settlements on all except 130 cases of the 1,100 they felt were worth of investigation. Prosecutions are only one part of their tool kit she says.

MPs question HMRC

Lin Homer, chief executive of HMRC, does not want to commit on whether HSBC facilitated tax evasion by helping clients bring cash into the UK or giving them a credit card to access undeclared funds. She says the behaviour of some individuals is "worthy of investigation". Committee chair Margaret Hodge says she's had three years to do something about the situation.

MPs question HMRC

The Public Accounts Committee hearing is about to get underway. We're expecting HMRC officials to be questioned about the HSBC tax scandal.

You can watch online.

Via Twitter

John Moylan

Industry correspondent, BBC News

Jan energy switching figs from Energy UK - down 122K on prev month and almost at record low levels over the past 2 years...@EnergyUKcomms

Varoufakis interview

Varoufakis
AFP

Greek Finance Minister

Yanis Varoufakis has been interviewed by Germany's Stern Magazine. "The banks in Greece are part of a super-rich elite that has benefitted from the crisis," says the interviewer. "Yes, but we will smash them," retorts Mr Varoufakis. Greek banks - you have been warned.

Howard Mustoe

Business reporter

That's all from Chris, Joe and I. We hand over now to Ben Morris to guide you through the Public Account Committee's grilling of HMRC and the rest of this afternoon's news. Stay tuned.

Time Warner results

US media giant

Time Warner has announced a 27% fall in fourth quarter net profit to $718m. Nevertheless the results were better than some analysts had been expecting. HBO, which is home to Game of Thrones, saw sales rise 6.2% to $1.3bn. Warner Bros. movie studio saw sales fall 1% to $7.5bn.

Planes in Spain

air
Getty Images

Shares in Spanish airports group Aena leaped in their first day on the stock market. They changed hands for more than €68, up over 17% on the initial public offering price of €58. The state-controlled Spanish holding company Enaire sold 44.6% of Aena. The company manages 46 airports, including Luton here in the UK.

'Tie your camel'

Federal Reserve official Richard Fisher has been addressing a New York audience in what will likely be his last salvo before stepping down as the head of the Dallas Fed. Bloomberg's Matthew Boesler highlights an extraordinary passage imploring the Fed to "

trust in Allah but tie your camel."

Basic Barclays accounts

Barclays
Getty Images

Barclays is losing current account customers after

switching them to a basic account from paid-for ones because new rules dictate they can no longer afford it, the Daily Mail reports. Barclays told the paper that accounts were not being closed and clients were being moved to services that are "better suited to their individual needs".

Danish deposits

Copenhagen
Getty Images

Now that Denmark has negative interest rates, FIH Erhvervsbank has become the first Danish bank to start charging customers for the privilege of depositing their cash. "If people want to put their money with us in our deposit bank, we at least don't want to lose money on it," Palle Nordahl, its chief financial officer,

told the Wall Street Journal. None too surprisingly, some of its 26,000 retail customers have decided to take their money elsewhere. Other larger Danish banks have threatened to take similar action if rates fall further than minus 0.75%.

Zac Goldsmith on HSBC

Zac Goldsmith has issued a statement regarding the HSBC claims. "It has never been a secret that I am a beneficiary of a trust set up by my late father and administered by a family office in Geneva," writes the Tory MP. "To be clear, my very numerous family members around the world who are beneficiaries of the same trust do not own or control it, but like me, they receive income from it. I have never had a Swiss bank account, and do not control any Swiss bank accounts. I have never sought or been given tax minimisation advice by HSBC, directly or indirectly."