HSBC Swiss office
HSBC reported 17% fall in profits in 'challenging' 2014Reuters

HSBC reported a 17% fall in profits to $18.7bn (£12.2bn) after a "challenging year" in 2014.

The bank attributed the slump to the negative impact of a series of fines, settlements and customer redress.

The UK-based bank has also endured a challenging start to 2015, amid allegations that HSBC's Swiss banking arm had helped people avoid tax in the UK.

The bank could face criminal charges in the UK for "cheating" HMRC, according to a former director of public prosecutions Lord Ken MacDonald.

Meanwhile, the bank has admitted that its chief executive Stuart Gulliver holds a bank account in Switzerland.

Gulliver set up the account to hold bonus payments, a spokeswoman for the bank said on Sunday.

Gulliver set up the Swiss account in 1998 in the name of a Panamanian company, but the spokeswoman said "this had no other purpose and provided no tax or other advantage."

The allegations that HSBC helped hundreds of its clients avoid UK tax emerged earlier in February.

The bank published a full page apology in a number of national newspapers last week, while reports suggest that the bank could make another apology this week.