According to the Panama Papers, banks set up 15,600 offshore companies. HSBC alone set up more than 2,300. HSBC is the bank that nearly lost its US licence a few years ago when it was discovered that one of its clients was one of the most murderous and wealthiest drugs barons in Mexico. It would appear that they didn’t learn from their past mistakes and that the lure of wealth and huge profits made them forget their moral, ethical and legal obligations.
But the Panama Papers could be just the tip of the iceberg – let’s not pretend for a minute that there was anything unusual about Mossack Fonseca, because there was not. This is just one of a host of law firms in tax havens doing remarkably similar things. The need is for the FCA to demand that banks put on record all their connections with secrecy jurisdiction lawyers, accountants etc.
This could all lead to hefty fines for the banks, on top of the fines they have already had for fixing the FX markets, gold prices, Libor – the list goes on and on. Plus, hopefully it will help ensure investment banks are a lot more transparent on what they are doing and with whom in the future.
With this in mind, be cautious as to where you place your money as some banks may struggle to survive.
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