Daily Media Briefing 9th November

Daily Media Briefing


Posted in: Corporate Reputation, Daily Media Briefing, Employees, Environment, Sustainable Investment

Top Stories

November 09, 2012

Corporate Reputation

HSBC Jersey accounts under scrutiny

HSBC says it is looking into allegations that criminals have used offshore accounts at its Jersey operation for money laundering. The bank issued a statement after the Daily Telegraph said it was at the centre of a major investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). HSBC said it was investigating "an alleged loss of certain client data in Jersey as a matter of urgency", but added that it had not been contacted by HMRC or any other authority. According to the Daily Telegraph, the tax authorities have obtained details of "every British client of HSBC in Jersey" based on information provided by a whistle-blower this week. It is reported that the 4,000 offshore account holders include well-known drug dealers, criminals, and bankers facing allegations of fraud. Earlier this year, a US Senate report alleged that staff at HSBC's global operations had laundered billions of dollars for drug cartels and terrorists in a "pervasively polluted" culture that persisted for years. (Daily Telegraph, Times*, BBC)



Argentine judge freezes Chevron assets

An Argentine judge has ordered the immediate freeze of the Argentinian assets of Chevron, the second biggest US oil company. The order is to enforce an Ecuadorean ruling that awarded $19bn in damages to Amazonian villagers over environmental contamination by the company; it is for immediate compliance and will stand until the fine has been paid. Assets seized will be put into a judicial account pending appeals in the 20 year old case. Chevron said it knew of no order in the dispute, known as Lago Agrio, arguing that it has no assets in Argentina. It has refused to pay the Ecuador judgment, alleging the case was “illegitimate” and fraudulent. Chevron inherited the Ecuador dispute when it bought Texaco Petroleum in 2001. The plaintiffs accuse Chevron of malpractice that has led to severe environmental damage and 306 cases of cancer in 227 families. (Financial Times*, Reuters)

Chinese President calls for energy-saving revolution

China's outgoing President Hu Jintao has called for a fundamental shift in the way the nation uses resources and a "revolution" in energy efficiency. Hu highlighted the environment as one of China's priorities, alongside the need for political reform, economic growth, and efforts to tackle corruption. He said that China – the world's largest emitter of CO2 and second biggest economy – should sharply cut its energy use, emissions, and release of major pollutants. China has a target to supply 11 per cent of its energy from renewable sources by 2015 and in 2013 is set to launch seven pilot emissions trading schemes in cities and provinces, covering 700 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent. Mr Hu also said that China should impose a cap on energy consumption and confirmed taxes for resource consumption as well as new fines for companies causing environmental degradation. (Financial Times*, Business Green)

Social Business

British Gas fuels Social Business Trust

British Gas is giving £5m in cash and in-kind support over the next five years to the Social Business Trust, which invests in growing social enterprises. The Social Business Trust was founded in 2010 by Damon Buffini of private equity firm Permira and social entrepreneur Adele Blakebrough. To date it has invested in six social enterprises including Bikeworks and the London Early Years Foundation. British Gas joins six other corporate partners which include Credit Suisse and Ernst & Young. These have committed £10m of cash and in-kind support over five years to the trust. Phil Bentley, managing director of British Gas, said: “An effective way the private sector can make a positive contribution to UK communities is by investing and supporting the growth of social enterprises delivery community services and creating employment.” (Social Enterprise)



Inquiry into boardroom gender bias to expand remit

Lord Davies's inquiry into male dominance in boardrooms is preparing to extend its remit by setting targets for the recruitment of women at board level for companies outside the FTSE 100. The former trade minister has commissioned research in preparation for recommending that FTSE 250 businesses should work towards a minimum level of female representation on their boards. Lord Davies’s 2011 report only backed targets for the UK's 100 largest public companies, saying that FTSE 100 companies should fill 25% of board roles with women by 2015. At the time of its publication, female directors held 12.5% of board positions, but research by the Public Boards Forum shows the current figure is 17.3%. However, the position for FTSE 250 companies is much worse, with women now filling 11.3% of board roles, compared with 7.8% when Davies reported. There are 94 FTSE 250 companies that have all-male boards. (Guardian)

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