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HSBC chairman: bank to cut use of tax havens

HSBC says it plans to turn its back on tax havens, according to articles British media.

According to the London Times, the chairman of HSBC, parent of HSBC Bermuda, has pledged to cut the global bank’s business with tax havens around the world.

“Facing an onslaught of stinging questions from shareholders at its annual meeting yesterday (Thursday), Douglas Flint said that Europe’s biggest bank planned to ‘significantly reduce’ its activities in low-tax regimes including Bermuda and the British Virgin Islands,” the Times article said.

Mr Flint said that the last two years have been “extremely damaging” to HSBC’s reputation.

Another top UK newspaer said: “Speaking at the bank’s annual shareholder meeting, Mr Flint revealed that the use of offshore tax havens was being reviewed in light of increased public scrutiny of the issue. He conceded that the use of these financial centres had got a ‘bad name’.”

He is quoted as saying: “Given that it started getting a flavour to it, we need to reflect very carefully and scrutinise anything we’re involved with, anything that our customers are involved with, and decide whether that is appropriate going forward.”

Mr Flint added: “I would think generally these options of being involved with tax havens will reduce.”

HSBC has been accused of helping customers avoid tax through Switzerland and Jersey, as well as other offshore financial centres.

This month, the bank said it was considering selling its private banking business in Monaco and had received “unsolicited expressions of interest” for the unit

We will be updating this story.

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Published May 28, 2013 at 12:04 pm (Updated May 28, 2013 at 1:31 pm)

HSBC chairman: bank to cut use of tax havens

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