It’s not even tax avoidance:
Stuart Gulliver, the HSBC chief executive who has vowed to reform the crisis-hit bank, sheltered millions of pounds in a Swiss account through a Panamanian company and remains tax domiciled in Hong Kong.
Leaked files show that the Derby-born Gulliver, who is due to present HSBC’s annual report on Monday in the wake of the international controversy over its Geneva-based private bank, was also one of its clients, holding about £5m in a Swiss account.
The bank executive was listed as the beneficial owner of an account in the name of Worcester Equities Inc, an anonymous company registered in Panama, containing a balance in 2007 of $7.6m. It was through this entity that Gulliver’s HSBC bonuses were paid until 2003. He also held a second account in the name of Worcester Foundation, which had been closed before 2007.
Although now based in the UK, where HSBC has its headquarters, Gulliver is domiciled in Hong Kong for legal and tax purposes.
He’s a non-dom. Thus money kept out of the UK is UK tax free. Thus, this money in a Swiss account. In fact, he must have a foreign account for him to be obeying the law.
In response to queries from the Guardian about his personal account as revealed in the leaked files, a representative for Gulliver said he had made use of HSBC Suisse to hold his bonus payments prior to 2003, when he moved from Hong Kong to London.
Lawyers for Gulliver said that Hong Kong tax had been paid on this income – and explained that he “followed this procedure because he wanted his taxed bonus earnings to remain private from his then colleagues in Hong Kong, which they would not have done if he had kept them in an HSBC Hong Kong account”.
And he also paid tax on those earnings.
Smear job really, eh?