Sunday, February 8, 2015

Repeating History - dirty money at the Hong Shang aka HSBC

Eric Lewis on DailyKos pointed to a Guardian article on how the Swiss branch of HSBC "helped wealthy customers dodge taxes and conceal millions of dollars of assets, doling out bundles of untraceable cash and advising clients on how to circumvent domestic tax authorities..."

The Guardian article is based on the latest blockbuster from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, Whistleblower? Thief? Hero? Introducing the Source of the Data that Shook HSBC, by Martha M. Hamilton. In turn, Hamilton's article details the secret HSBC data revealed by Hervé Falciani, a computer systems specialist employed by HSBC Private Bank (Suisse).

While Swiss authorities have charged Falciani with data theft from HSBC, Hamilton reports that
Falciani’s HSBC data trove ended up first in the hands of authorities in France, which then indicted London-based HSBC for illegal direct marketing to French nationals, money laundering and facilitating tax fraud.

The French authorities shared the data with other countries, including the U.S., and it is being used in tax probes and attempts to recover evaded taxes all around the world. The French newspaper Le Monde obtained the data as well, and shared it with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. 
As usual, however, the liberals and progressives promoting the story of HSBC's latest misdeeds are operating in complete blindness to the long and sordid history of HSBC, which used to be named the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank Co. The Hong Shang, as old Asia hands in the diplomatic and intelligence communities called it back a quarter century and more ago, has historically been one of the dirtiest banks in the world.

And here's the really crucial part - the Hong Shang has also always been intimately linked to the highest levels of the British oligarchy. Handling dirty money has a long and honorable record at the Hong Shang. It was one of the leading British institutions that directed the opium trade which destroyed and subjugated India and China. In fact, it was established entirely for that purpose. During the Viet Nam war,  Lucien Conein and Ed Lansdale of the CIA used HSBC to launder heroin money. The first time Ghandi was jailed by the British was when he wrote about the role of the Hong Shang in the opium trade. The British accused Ghandi of interfering with the imperial revenues.

Nothing much has changed: just look at the HSBC Board of Directors today. Here's about half of them: keep in mind as you go through this that these are the one percent who control almost all the world's wealth, and wield massive influence with governments around the world.

Douglas Flint has been Group Chairman of HSBC Holdings since December 2010. He joined HSBC in 1995, and in February 2010, was made Chief Financial Officer, and - note this - Executive Director Risk and Regulation. from 2005 to 2011, Flint was a non-executive director of BP PLC. That would be British Petroluem, again, a company at the commanding heights of the still-extant British Empire. Note Flint's role in calming the waters before and espeically after the 2007-2008 financial crash:
Chairman of the Financial Reporting Council’s review of the Turnbull Guidance on Internal Control from 2004-2005 and served on the Accounting Standards Board and the Advisory Council of the International Accounting Standards Board from 2001-2004. He also served on the Shipley Working Group on Public Disclosure and co-chaired the Group of Thirty report on Enhancing Public Confidence in Financial Reporting, and the 2008 Report of the CRMPG III, “Containing Systemic Risk: The Road to Reform”.

Jonathan Evans, Lord Evans of Weardale, former Director-General of the British Security Service, the United Kingdom's domestic security and counter-intelligence service. You really think this guy does not know what HSBC is doing under his very nose while he's a director? Evans' presence on the board points to the intimate links between intelligence, drugs, and dirty banking that you're not supposed to talk about openly.

Joachim Faber, CEO of Allianz Global Investors from 2000 to 2012, and chairman of the German Stock Exchange Group since May 2012. Allianz is the world's largest insurance company. In April 2001, Allianz bought 80 per cent of Dresdner Bank, the largest bank in Germany.

Sir Simon Robertson, former Chairman of Kleinwort Benson, which has historically been used by top British elites, particularly for off shore banking.   Kleinwort Benson was a pioneer in privatisation: it was the lead adviser on the privatisation of British Telecom which, at the time in 1981 was the largest public offering ever. In 1995, Kleinwort Benson was bought by Dresdner Bank. Sir Robertson was also President of Goldman Sachs Europe.

Jonathan Symonds, CBE, former Chief Financial Officer of Novartis AG, the Swiss company which is the largest pharmaceutical company in the world based on sales. Symonds was a Partner and Managing Director of Goldman Sachs in 2007-2009.

Janis Rachel Lomax was Deputy Governor of the Bank of England from 2003 to 2008.

Philip D. Ameen, Senior Vice President, Principal Accounting Officer and Controller of General Electric Capital Corporation and General Electric Capital Services, Inc; Vice President and Principal Accounting Officer of General Electric Company until March 15, 2008 and Comptroller of GE from April 1994 to March 15, 2008. According to his HSBC blurb, Ameen  "has extensive experience in accounting standards setting and reporting." What standards, exactly, is he setting? According to the Bloomburg bio, Ameen "is a Member of the Advisory Board of University Business School's Center for Excellence in Accounting and Security Analysis. He serves on the International Financial Interpretations Committee of the International Accounting Standards Board. He was the longest-serving member of the Financial Accounting Standards Board Emerging Issues Task Force."

John Phillip Lipsky, the IMF's representative in Chile beginning 1978, the time when Milton Friedman's "Chicago Boys" were imposing their "shock therapy" on Chile, backed up by Augusto Pinochet's military dictatorship. In 1984 he joined Salomon Brothers, then the largest bond trader in the world. In 1998 Lipsky joined JPMorgan as Chief Economist, and after Morgan merged with Chase Manhattan was appointed Chief Economist and Director of Research, eventually becoming Vice Chairman of JPMorgan Investment Bank. Lipsky is also on the Board of Directors of the National Bureau of Economic Research, the Advisory Board of the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, and the Council on Foreign Relations (you just knew the CFR had to be in there, somewhere, right?).

Rona Fairhead is currently Chairwoman of the BBC Trust, which replaced the BBC's Board of Governors in January 2007. She launched her "business" career in the 1980s at Mitt Romney's Bain and Company, then moved on to Morgan Stanley. In 1996, she became director of planning and acquisitions for Imperial Chemical Industries, historically one of the strategic firms at the top of the British empire. From there, she became chief financial officer of Pearson PLC, again, one of the strategic firms at the top of the British empire, with a particularly crucial role in intelligence gathering and the molding and directing of public opinion through its subsidiary, Financial Times Group, which Fairhead was made CEO of in 2006.

I looked at the Board of Directors of the Hong Shang in the mid-1990s, and it astounds me to find the interlocking relationships with all the same companies again. I really shouldn't be surprised: we have yet to witness a USA President who is serious about confronting the gang of criminals who oversees the world's flows of dirty money. After all, they're such dependable campaign contributors.

So, there you have it: history repeating itself. The British Empire is alive and well, with the same old  junction of oil, chemicals, finance, and intelligence in the City of London. Dirty money flows with direction from the highest levels of British intelligence. There's even the possibility of a lively confrontation between France and Britain.

What is new is the role of a whistle blower revealing the electronic secrets of one of the corporations we most need to wipe off the face of the planet. May God preserve him against our enemies.

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