orkers carry out maintenance at a ‘hole in the wall’ cash dispenser at a branch of HSBC in London February 22, 2015. Photo credit: Reuters HSBC reported a 17 percent fall in annual pretax profit and cut its profitability target, saying allegations its Swiss business had helped customers to dodge taxes had brought shame on the bank. Results from Europe’s biggest bank on Monday reflected the cost of past misconduct and of protecting itself against the impact of further scandals. HSBC said allegations about its Geneva-based arm, raided last week by Swiss officials and now the subject of a UK inquiry, had badly damaged its image. “A number of us, myself included, think the practices of the private bank back in the past are a source of shame and reputational damage to HSBC. I think shame would be reasonable noun to use,” Chief Executive Stuart Gulliver told reporters. Gulliver was himself thrust into the centre of the scandal on Sunday when Britain’s Guardian newspaper said he had sheltered millions of pounds in HSBC’s Swiss private bank via a Panamanian company. HSBC confirmed that Gulliver has a Swiss bank account and while there is no suggestion he broke any rules, the…
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