There have been rumblings about the ethical issues and corporate governance of big banks funding commercial investment with high street savings, for years.
Are the Government eventually going to grow a pair?
Will the big banks finally see that ethical is optimal, all by themselves?
Can the Bank of England act in concert with all the other G8 National Banks and impose stricter corporate governance?
My own view ~ all are highly unlikely.
But now HSBC is threatening to leave the UK if the Government implements the Vickers review, which proposes banks should be forced to ring fence their retail and wholesale operations, ”…because its too onerous”.
Well, let me tell you something HSBC.
Two can play at at that game.
I have banked with HSBC for over a decade now, using a variety of services and generally receiving good customer service.
But no more.
Despite all this history between us, for ethical issues, I find I am no longer able to bank with HSBC with a clear conscience because they are one of the key banks providing financing for the extraction of the Alberta tar sands in Canada.
The three main high street banks in the UK (Barclays, HSBC and the Royal Bank of Scotland) are all involved in providing significant sums of project or corporate finance for oil extraction from Canadian tar sands.
Since the initial recapitalisation of UK banks took place in October 2008, RBS has underwritten corporate debt and equity worth nearly $2.5 billion with tar sands related companies.
In the same period Barclays Bank has led the most corporate debt and equity to tar sands-related companies, more than $14 billion.
Like pigs at the trough.
The levels of carbon dioxide which will be released into the atmosphere as a result of exploiting this reserve will accelerate climate change and has been predicted to push us beyond the ‘tipping point’, after which we irreversible changes to the climate will engender global disruption of food systems, our oceans and the ecosystems we all depend on.
NASA scientist James Hansen has identified Canada’s tar sands as containing twice the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by global oil use in our entire history, and if we fully exploit this new oil source, alongside continued burning of conventional oil, gas and coal supplies, the amount of carbon dioxide released would accelerate climate change to the extent that it becomes unmanageable.
And this is all made possible by the capital investment provided by HSBC and their inability or unwillingness to address their corporate governance and my ethical issues.
On behalf of the world my kids may inherit; gee thanks HSBC, and RBS and Barclays.
How else will they ever learn if we keep condoning what they do with our money?I would urge you to consider deeply the implications of their actions, in the hope YOUR organisation is able to see beyond short term profits and recognise your responsibility to both current and future generations.
And maybe you could do the same as me and just close your HSBC account and move it to a bank which takes more seriously the ethical issues involved in their investment policy ~ and that won’t be RBS or Barclays.
How else will they ever learn if we keep condoning what they do with our money?
My only regret is I didn’t study the ethical issues and draw the line when they gambled on food prices, which makes people go hungry in poor countries. Perhaps I should have.
I din’t call it a day when corporate governance didn’t make them more transparent about their lending and investment practices. I really should have taken more notice.
I should have picked up on them not paying their fair share of corporate tax ~ the most basic tenet of good citizenship and, supposedly, corporate governance ~ I don’t have an excuse, I just didn’t.
But when I found out they were financing Armageddon for profit, with my money.
That was it guys.
But that’s just me on my high horse. But what do you think?
Is it OK for investment arms of high-street banks to invest your money, however they want, just as long as it brings you a reasonable return?