Differing response to HSBC scandal on either side of Irish Sea reveals a lot

Appointment of former HSBC executives to government roles draws differing responses

The fuss in the UK over the appointment of former HSBC chief executive Stephen Green as a trade minister is in marked contrast to the equanimity that greeted the revelation here that two former HSBC executives were appointed to important roles by the Government.

The gist of the criticism levelled against Green – an ordained Church of England priest among other things – is that if he didn't know what was going on at HSBC's Swiss subsidiary, he ought to have.

Likewise, if the government didn't know what had been going on at HSBC in Switzerland when it appointed him, it ought to have, given that information had already been provided to them by the French.

Mr Green was HSBC chief executive between 2003 and 2006 and the UK’s minister of state for trade and investment between January 2011 and December 2013.


Michael Geoghegan (above) succeeded him as group chief executive of HSBC from March 2006 to December 2010.

He undertook a review of Nama – on a pro bono basis – in 2011 and was appointed by Michael Noonan to chair its advisory board that December.

The Revenue Commissioners received the HSBC data, which related mostly to the years 2006 and 2007, in 2010, as did the UK authorities.

David Hodgkinson also spent his career with HSBC, ending up as group chief operating officer for HSBC Holdings plc between May 2006 and December 2008. He was appointed executive chairman of Allied Irish Banks in October 2010 by Brian Lenihan.

The different tack being taken by politicians on the two sides of the Irish Sea says something about the difference in what passes for politics in the two jurisdictions. But it’s not quite clear what.