One unnamed employee, not a director, was paid more than pounds 1.4m, earning more than the chairman, Sir William Purves, and chief executive, John Bond, put together.
Four other employees received annual payments ranging between pounds 600,000 and pounds 1.1m. The pounds 4.62m total included pounds 1.27m in "golden hello" payments, plus bonuses of pounds 750,000 paid to the five employees, the HSBC annual report and accounts showed.
A company spokeswoman said yesterday: "We are not able to give the names of the individuals concerned, other than to say that they were not directors. Nor are we able to say in which area of the company's overall operations they work because this might lead them to be identified."
She added that the individuals were paid at this level because of the very significant contribution they made to the company's overall profits of pounds 3.7bn, more than any other bank in the world.
Sir William saw his total remuneration rise from pounds 633,000 to pounds 680,000 last year, while Mr Bond received pounds 682,000, up from pounds 619,000 in 1994.
The company's highest paid director was John Gray, chairman of the group's Hongkong Bank subsidiary and an executive director of HSBC. He received a total of pounds 1m, which included pounds 537,000 in benefits associated with his employment outside the UK.
Total directors' pay - including pension contributions - increased from pounds 4.35m to pounds 5.5m last year, while share options were also granted to senior executive officers.
The pay awards came in a year when the group lifted pre-tax profits - after pounds 416m of bad debt provisons - by 16 per cent to pounds 3.67bn.