HSBC confirms CEO Stuart Gulliver holds Swiss account
HSBC boss Stuart Gulliver in December 2013.Reuters

HSBC has said its chief executive, Stuart Gulliver, holds a bank account in Switzerland that was set up in 1998 to hold bonus payments.

A spokeswoman for the bank provided details of the account and of other matters related to Gulliver's tax status, following a report in the Guardian that said he had a Swiss account that contained $7.6m (£4.9m, €6.7m) in 2007.

The spokeswoman, however, did not say how much money the account was holding.

The spokeswoman said Gulliver set up the account when he was living and working in Hong Kong to hold bonus payments. Full tax was paid in Hong Kong on the bonus payments and Gulliver has voluntarily declared his Swiss account to UK tax authorities for a number of years.

She said that the account was set up in 1998 in the name of a Panamanian company for reasons of confidentiality "and this had no other purpose and provided no tax or other advantage".

The HSBC spokeswoman said Gulliver, who is due to present the bank's results today, was a non-domiciled UK tax resident.

She added that non-domicile status and the remittance basis rules do not affect the UK taxation of his worldwide earnings from HSBC.

There was no suggestion in the Guardian report that Gulliver broke any rules.

The spokesperson commented: "Hong Kong is Mr Gulliver's home and as a matter of law he is domiciled in Hong Kong. It should not be a surprise that Mr Gulliver, who has spent the majority of his nearly 35-year career at HSBC in Hong Kong, has made his home there.

"Since being posted to the UK from Hong Kong in 2003, Gulliver has paid full UK tax on the entirety of his worldwide earnings, less a credit for tax paid additionally in Hong Kong (where he is also tax resident) on that part of the same earnings doubly taxed."

The Guardian report, citing leaked files, said Gulliver was listed as the beneficial owner of an account in HSBC's Swiss bank in the name of Worcester Equities, an anonymous firm registered in Panama, containing a balance in 2007 of $7.6m.

The Guardian also reported that he held a second account in the name of Worcester Foundation, which had been closed before 2007.

Money laundering

Swiss authorities have raided the offices of HSBC's Geneva branch over allegations of money laundering.

The raids followed the opening of a criminal inquiry into allegations of aggravated money laundering. The inquiry comes after revelations that HSBC's Swiss private bank allegedly helped wealthy clients evade taxes.

HSBC has apologised to customers and investors over the failing of its Swiss unit but insists the operation has since been overhauled.

Britain's financial watchdog said on 16 February it will investigate HSBC to ensure the failings are behind it.

Gulliver reportedly moved to Hong Kong in 1980 and became a permanent resident with right of abode, along with his wife who is an Australian national.