HSBC scandal bad timing for Juncker


Monday saw European markets down as concern over the future of Greece within the euro zone continues to worry investors. Sunday’s speech from Alexis Tsipras-which restated the country’s intention to refuse a further bailout-was met with predictably unenthusiastic sentiment from European politicians.

Jean-Claude Juncker implied that Tsipras may have misinterpreted messages from leaders last week, noting that “Greece should not assume that the general feeling in Europe has changed so much.” For the moment, markets will be waiting on the outcome of Thursday Euro Group meetings, when it is hoped that solid negotiations may commence in earnest.

Mr Tsipras has been keen to denounce wealthy oligarchs in Greece who he believes are guilty of widespread tax dodging. On that note, Monday’s revelation of large scale tax avoidance  by British bank HSBC could scarcely have come at a better time. The leak, thought to be the largest ever in Swiss corporate history, surrounded the facilitation and laundering of undeclared income for wealthy clients by HSBC. The bank is also said to have provided clients with “bricks of cash” when they appeared at the branch in Geneva.

The release will no doubt draw parallels to the LuxLeaks scandal, a trove of data released late last year which revealed industrial scale tax avoidance was being permitted by the Grand Duchy under the stewardship of Mr Juncker.

In a further twist to the story, the Financial Times reported last night that the IT specialist behind the leaks, Herve Falciani, has been sought out by Spanish anti-austerity party Podemos. It is thought that Falciani will advise the party on the best ways to combat tax avoidance.

Most stocks on the Ibex 35 suffered losses on Monday, with banking stocks down across the index. BankInter (-4.11%), Bankia (-3.70) and BBVA (-2.87) the day’s biggest losers.

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The Corner
The Corner has a team of on-the-ground reporters in capital cities ranging from New York to Beijing. Their stories are edited by the teams at the Spanish magazine Consejeros (for members of companies’ boards of directors) and at the stock market news site Consenso Del Mercado (market consensus). They have worked in economics and communication for over 25 years.

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