George Osborne wrongly named HSBC over Libor affair


Click to follow
The Independent Online

George Osborne, the Chancellor, was wrong when he declared last week that HSBC was under investigation over Libor fixing, it emerged yesterday.

The Chancellor's comment in Parliament that HSBC was among banks being investigated appeared to have been rehearsed and briefed, and were made in response from a fellow Conservative, the MP David Ruffley.

HSBC was alarmed at the allegation and contacted the FSA, which is acknowledging publicly that HSBC is not under investigation. That makes it the only UK bank contributing to Libor calculations which has been cleared by the regulator.

It is believed that HSBC has been contacted by other regulatory authorities around the world about its interest rate submissions, but it is not "under investigation".

The issue is important as banks not involved in the scandal are keen to distance themselves from transgressors.

As one senior banker at a rival City bank said: "We're not involved in this whole scandal but believe me, there's no schadenfreude here. All of us are guilty by association in the minds of the public and some politicians. It's a very grim time for the City."

The Chancellor also correctly named RBS, UBS and Citigroup as being under investigation.

In its annual report, HSBC says that it has "been named in putative class action lawsuits filed by private parties in the US with respect to the setting of US dollar Libor."

An HSBC spokesman declined to comment.