Archive | February, 2015

HSBC ya’

18 Feb

Three years ago, Steve and I rented out our house in NC and moved to London. His company has an office there and he accepted a two year assignment. We went over in August to secure a flat and set up our bank accounts.  HSBC had a branch office just below Steve’s company and so we popped in to get the accounts set up.

We arrived, looking like two American tourists – blue jeans, sneakers, no name brand nothing. After a few minutes, we were escorted back to a a very nice woman’s desk. We explained why we were there and what we needed. She handed us some papers, then asked for Steve’s contract letter as proof of employment. He handed it over, she glanced at it, and she started on a profuse apology rant as she nearly climbed over her desk to retrieve the papers she had handed us.

“I’m so very sorry, I should have looked first.  Of course, you will be a premier customer.” She produced a gift box from under desk.  The lid featured two beautiful people with dark skin and hair wearing designer clothes, expensive jewelry, and dining by candlelight. Steve and I cut our eyes at each other and snorted. We are neither dark-skinned, nor mysterious, nor used to Premiere status treatment. HIs salary was barely enough to support the four of us (who lived in three cities, one paying Central London rent and still carrying an NC mortgage), Then, she went on to offer to set up our off-shore accounts “for tax purposes.” Let that sink in – an off-shore account to hide our money from taxes.

Steve and I have often referred to that encounter as “what is wrong” with the banking industry and people in general. The anti-tax mentality goes beyond the US border and banks are complicit in helping people hide their wealth from the governments that provide those very people with the safety, security, and most importantly, here in the US- the opportunity to even have that wealth.

My heart soared just  a bit today when I read the headline about HSBC being raided. I hope the officials are quite successful in finding each and every entity that has illegally evaded paying their fair share, but moreover, I wish regulation would forbid off-shore accounts all together.  It is time for international business laws to favor international governments and cooperation and not individuals.

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