The coverage of HSBC in Britain’s Daily Telegraph is a fraud on its readers. If major newspapers allow corporations to influence their content for fear of losing advertising revenue, democracy itself is in peril.

Three years ago the Telegraph investigations team—the same lot who carried out the superb MPs’ expenses investigation—received a tip off about accounts held with HSBC in Jersey. Essentially this investigation was similar to the Panorama investigation into the Swiss banking arm of HSBC. After three months research the Telegraph resolved to publish. Six articles on this subject can now be found online, between 8 and 15 November 2012, although three are not available to view.

Thereafter no fresh reports appeared. Reporters were ordered to destroy all emails, reports and documents related to the HSBC investigation. I have now learnt, in a remarkable departure from normal practice, that at this stage lawyers for the Barclay brothers became closely involved. When I asked the Telegraph why the Barclay brothers were involved, it declined to comment.

This was the pivotal moment. From the start of 2013 onwards stories critical of HSBC were discouraged. HSBC suspended its advertising with the Telegraph. Its account, I have been told by an extremely well informed insider, was extremely valuable. HSBC, as one former Telegraph executive told me, is “the advertiser you literally cannot afford to offend”. HSBC today refused to comment when I asked whether the bank’s decision to stop advertising with the Telegraph was connected in any way with the paper’s investigation into the Jersey accounts.

Winning back the HSBC advertising account became an urgent priority. It was eventually restored after approximately 12 months. Executives say that Murdoch MacLennan was determined not to allow any criticism of the international bank. “He would express concern about headlines even on minor stories,” says one former Telegraph journalist. “Anything that mentioned money-laundering was just banned, even though the bank was on a final warning from the US authorities. This interference was happening on an industrial scale.

“An editorial operation that is clearly influenced by advertising is classic appeasement. Once a very powerful body know they can exert influence they know they can come back and threaten you. It totally changes the relationship you have with them. You know that even if you are robust you won’t be supported and will be undermined.”

When I sent detailed questions to the Telegraph this afternoon about its connections with advertisers, the paper gave the following response. “Your questions are full of inaccuracies, and we do not therefore intend to respond to them. More generally, like any other business, we never comment on individual commercial relationships, but our policy is absolutely clear. We aim to provide all our commercial partners with a range of advertising solutions, but the distinction between advertising and our award-winning editorial operation has always been fundamental to our business. We utterly refute any allegation to the contrary.”

The evidence suggests otherwise, and the consequences of the Telegraph’s recent soft coverage of HSBC may have been profound. Would Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs have been much more energetic in its own recent investigations into wide-scale tax avoidance, had the Telegraph continued to hold HSBC to account after its 2012 investigation? There are great issues here. They go to the heart of our democracy, and can no longer be ignored.

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The LIBOR Scandal and Financial Fraud

April 2nd, 2011: Wachovia Bank laundered $378,400,000,000 of drug cartel money

June 4th, 2011: Bank Of America Will Pay $20 Million For Illegal Foreclosures On Active-Duty Soldiers

July 7th, 2012: The rotten heart of finance

July 17th, 2012: HSBC let drug gangs launder millions: First Barclays, now Britain’s biggest bank is shamed

December 19th, 2012: UBS LIBOR Traders Face U.S. Criminal Charges

February 6th, 2013: RBS To Pay $800 Million LIBOR Fine, No Criminal Charges

April 25th, 2013: Everything Is Rigged: The Biggest Price-Fixing Scandal Ever

July 3rd, 2013: HSBC’s $1.9B money laundering settlement approved by judge

November 29th, 2013: Documents in JPMorgan settlement reveal how every large bank in U.S. has committed mortgage fraud

December 5th, 2013: Understanding the LIBOR Scandal

December 13th, 2013: Outrageous HSBC Settlement Proves the Drug War is a Joke

March 18th, 2014: FDIC Sues 16 Global Banks For Roles In Manipulating LIBOR

April 7th, 2014: JPMorgan, Citibank, Royal Bank of Scotland caught in widening foreign exchange probes

April 29th, 2014: Former Senior SEC Official Manipulated the System for His Clients’ and His Own Benefit

May 27th, 2014: Ex-Barclays New York Trio Face Libor Charges in U.K. Court

July 1st, 2014: BNP Paribas Agrees to Almost $9Bln Settlement for Violating US Sanctions

July 1st, 2014: Finra fines Goldman dark pool trading unit $800,000

July 3rd, 2014: U.S. Bank Must Cough up $200 Million

July 14th, 2014: Citi Agrees To Pay $7 Billion To Settle Securities Investigation

July 24th, 2014: Barclays Files Motion To Dismiss NY Attorney General Charges Of ‘Dark Pool’ Fraud

July 28th, 2014: "Reprehensible" Lloyds Bank Agrees To $105 Million Wristslap For Manipulating Libor

July 30th, 2014: Bank Of America Fined $1.27B For Countrywide Fraud

August 20th, 2014: Bank of America Expected to Settle Huge Mortgage Case for $16.65 Billion

August 23rd, 2014: Goldman Sachs To Shell Out $3.15B In Settlement Over Mortgage Bonds

September 29th, 2014: Elizabeth Warren Calls For Investigation Of NY Fed Over Secret Tapes

September 29th, 2014: Bank CEOs are the New Drug Lords, Rate-Fixing

September 29th, 2014: Bank Of America To Pay $7.7M SEC Fine For 2009 Accounting Error

October 1st, 2014: JPMorgan To Face US Class Action In $10 Billion MBS Case

October 1st, 2014: A quarter of all public company deals may involve some kind of insider trading

November 12th, 2014: US Veterans Sue Banks, Alleging Terrorist Connections

November 12th, 2014: HSBC, Barclays, RBS, et al. Fined $4.25 Billion in Inquiry Into Currency-Rigging

Venezuelans are questioning why a former treasury minister and ex-bodyguard of late President Hugo Chávez is linked to a Swiss bank account with HSBC holding billions of dollars. The revelation came this week amid a trove of leaked documents that highlighted Venezuela’s role as a major client in Switzerland’s private banking industry.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists released a report this week detailing its findings based on nearly 60,000 internal HSBC documents from 2006 to 2007 leaked by whistleblower Hervé Falciani, a former employee of the bank. The leaks shed light on a notoriously secretive banking industry that has been implicated in helping wealthy clients keep their assets hidden, in some cases from domestic tax authorities and in others for illicit activities. In terms of dollar amounts, the report stated that Switzerland and the United Kingdom were the top sources of funds in Swiss HSBC accounts, with $31.2 billion and $21.7 billion held by each country’s clients, respectively. Venezuela ranked third, with $14.8 billion.


Have you ever considered living and working abroad? Expat life can yield great benefits—a new perspective, a new lifestyle, and the opportunity to immerse yourself in a different culture—but also bring unique challenges. And just the prospect of the new and different and unknown can be daunting.

HSBC’s 2014 Expat Explorer Report reduces the unknown factor by surveying the experiences of expats in their new countries of residence, including the opportunities and challenges they face living and working abroad.

The report ranks countries by expat economics, expat experience, and raising children abroad (as well as overall). This year, Switzerland ranked as the top country overall for “a balanced expat life, providing the means to build a good career while allowing expats to enjoy a life outside work and to raise their family abroad.”

See how countries around the world compare and get expat hints and tips here.

Published on Nov 15, 2014

This collective fine for big banks involved in exchange fraud represent less than 1/1000 of the daily transactions in the market says Bill Black, former financial regulator