LONDON (dpa) – Scandal-hit HSBC reported a 17 per cent slump in annual profit on Monday as it defended its chief executive’s use of a Swiss bank account to save large bonuses.
The bank said its pre-tax profit fell to 18.7 billion dollars in 2014 after a “challenging year,” down from 22.6 billion dollars in 2013.
“Profits disappointed, although a tough fourth quarter masked some of the progress made over the preceding three quarters,” said Stuart Gulliver, HSBC’s chief executive.
Despite the slump, Gulliver said there were “encouraging signs in a number of areas.”
“Asia continued to provide a strong contribution and Middle East and North Africa delivered a record reported profit before tax,” he said.
Gulliver has come under scrutiny in recent days following a report that he operates a Swiss bank account to hold bonus payments from HSBC.
On Monday, HSBC said he opened the account in 1998 while he was based in Hong Kong and had paid Hong Kong taxes on the bonus payments.
Gulliver had also declared the account to the British tax authorities, it said.