UK's Cameron comes under pressure in parliament over HSBC tax scandal

Wed Feb 11, 2015 11:11am EST
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By Andrew Osborn

LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister David Cameron came under pressure in parliament on Wednesday over a tax scandal engulfing HSBC's Swiss arm when the opposition Labour Party accused Cameron's party of accepting donations from "dodgy" HSBC account holders.

Cameron did not dispute the donations -- from seven unnamed individuals -- and there is no suggestion the account holders did anything illegal. But the disclosure is awkward for Cameron three months before a close national election on May 7.

It allowed Labour, level with Cameron's Conservatives in many opinion polls, to press its portrayal of Cameron and his party as putting the interests of the wealthy before those of the less well-off. Cameron rejects that charge.

"How can the prime minister explain the revolving door between the Tory (Conservative) Party HQ and the Swiss branch of HSBC?" Labour leader Ed Miliband asked Cameron in parliament.

"He's a dodgy prime minister, surrounded by dodgy donors."

Cameron laughed off the broadside.

"For 13 years they sat in the Treasury, they did nothing about tax transparency, nothing about tax dodging, nothing about tax avoidance," he said of Labour.

After the leak this month of its Swiss bank's customer list, HSBC admitted failings in compliance and controls at the unit.   Continued...

Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband gestures as launches his party's 2015 election campaign, at the Lowry Theatre in Salford, north west England January 5, 2015. REUTERS/Andrew Yates