HSBC Braches Shut After Tax Protesters Disrupt Business

july-22-03Global financial firm HSBC has been caught up in protests targeted at British firms avoiding their tax obligations. 13 HSBC branches were the target of protests by tax evasion campaigners UK Uncut, who believe that the bank’s minimal tax obligations contribute to public financial issues.

The group, which campaigns for alternatives to austerity measures, has targeted a range of UK businesses over the past years. Past protect targets include Vodafone, which was affected by protesters demanding that the corporation pay more taxes and avoid using off-shore accounts to avoid UK corporation tax obligations.

HSBC, despite being headquartered in London, has been targeted by the group as it avoided paying a ‘fair share of tax.’ The group also claims that HSBC has abused the system by setting up ‘hundreds of tax havens’ that make it difficult for UK services to operate due to reduced tax revenue.

Protestors were situated outside the Regent Street branch of HSBC, transforming it into a food bank designed to highlight the loss of income that many people on public assistance benefits have experienced. Murray Worthy, a UK Uncut spokesman, noted that HSBC relied on tax havens ‘more than any other bank.

HSBC has not commented on the allegations made by the protestors specifically, but has repeatedly voiced its tax philosophy. The bank ‘takes tax transparency seriously’ and paid over $9.3 billion in taxes over the last twelve months. HSBC’s UK taxes are more than £1.1 billion per year, with average payments increasing on average.

Protestors moved from the Regent Street branch to an Oxford Street HSBC branch in the afternoon, claiming that it was not their intent to inconvenience customers, but to ‘target the management of HSBC.’ Other protests took place in Glasgow, where an HSBC branch was closed after protestors covered it with tax evasion posters.

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Edinburgh-based Royal Bank of Scotland plans to axe over 1,400 jobs during its next round of layoffs. The troubled financial services firm is currently 81 percent owned by taxpayers after it was bailed out at the peak of the 2008 financial crisis.

The job cuts are one of several major decisions aimed at returning RBS to health in order to sell the bank back to private investors. RBS has reduced its workforce over the last four years in order to limit expenses and return the bank to profitability.

David Cameron has weighed in on the bank’s decision to cut costs, stating that the end goal of the layoffs is to make RBS a viable private business once again. The jobs that have been removed were primarily administrative positions in RBS’s offices.

The bank plans to restructure its UK-based retail banking business and will slowly cut back its employment numbers over the next two years. The move is one part of RBS’s long-term plan to return to its pre-crisis financial position.

Despite its unique financial situation, RBS isn’t the only bank engaging in sizable layoffs. Global banking giant HSBC is considering cutting its workforce by 14,000 due to the increasing regulatory costs of operating its business in certain markets.

The large bank would focus heavily on Asian investments, aiming to earn more from a market that’s historically been it’s top performer. The East Asian banking giant has over 260,000 employees currently, making it one of the world’s largest banks.

Chief executive Stuart Gulliver claimed that the job cuts were one of several moves aimed at making HSBC more ‘ready to take advantage of growth opportunities. The bank recently reported earnings of $8.4 billion during the first quarter of 2013.

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Yet another bank is at the centre of controversy as it announces 3,167 employees are to be cut from the workforce. HSBC is on the receiving end of the wrath of Unite and other unions throughout the UK. The bank’s chief executive, Stuart Gulliver, is the target of most of their anger.

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UK Banking News – From Bad to Worse

Amidst all the controversy over UK banks for the part they played in mis-selling payment protection insurance to the tune of billions of pounds, the news for many of those lenders just got worse. Government recently ordered high street banks and other lenders to refund payment protection insurance, PPI, that was mis sold and now those very same banks are facing billions more in court suits as they face being sued by the US.

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HSBC Unlikely to Meet PPI Deadline

HSBC was just one of the high street banks which were found to have mis sold PPI and one of those also ordered to clear its backlog of complaints. As that deadline is near, word has leaked that the bank has failed to do so and may be in for some legal repercussions from the Financial Services Authority (FSA).

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