Many years ago, the Crédit Lyonnais (now LCL) ran a slogan, Crédit Lyonnais – the power to say yes. Mrs. B. always laughed at that, as every time she went into the bank they said ‘no.’ (“Is my cheque book ready?” “No.” “Can I transfer some money abroad?” “No.” “Is there anywhere to sit?” “No.”) By contrast, when we went in to the Cambridge branch of HBSC, we were greeted by a charming young man who invited us to sit and offered us coffee. Mrs. B. waited while another charming assistant helped me transfer funds to a friend in Pakistan. Though we were complete strangers, we were treated as I was decades ago at my local branch of the Midland Bank, before it got subsumed into HSBC. The manager would come out and have a little chat with me as if I was part of the family, which he probably thought I was, as we’d been banking there ever since my ancestors needed a place to store their smoked mammoth. We were thoroughly impressed. “Now, that’s what I call customer service,” said Mrs. B. It is indeed heart-warming, in these days of automation and corporate giants, to see such devotion to customers’ needs still going strong. HSBC – the power to say “yes”. To anyone and anything.
HSBC’s Swiss bank concealed large sums of money for people facing allegations of serious wrongdoing, including drug-running, corruption and money laundering, leaked files reveal. Despite being legally obliged since 1998 to make special checks on high-risk customers, the bank provided accounts for clients implicated in six notorious scandals in Africa, including Kenya’s biggest corruption case, blood diamond trading and several corrupt military sales. HSBC also held assets for bankers accused of looting funds from former Soviet states, while alleged crimes by other account holders include bribery at Malta’s state oil company, cocaine smuggling from the Dominican Republic and the doping of professional cyclists in Spain.