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Former Columnist Alleges Daily Telegraph Folded For HSBC

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Peter Oborne, formerly a columnist for the Daily Telegraph, claims that while he worked at the Telegraph the London newspaper killed and ignored stories that could do damage to megabank HSBC’s reputation and business. Oborne made the allegations in a piece announcing his resignation from the Telegraph which was posted on Open Democracy, a digital commons publication.

According to Oborne, after the Telegraph faced a series of managerial shakeups its quality as a news organization degraded generally and in particular with stories related to HSBC. Oborne relayed how one of his stories about HSBC suspending Muslim bank accounts was killed and how the Telegraph has been notably silent on recent HSBC scandals such as the recent revelations concerning money laundering for dictators and arms dealers. He also discovered that the Telegraph had killed an earlier story about HSBC tax evasion using the isle of Jersey and that he believed it was done in order for the Telegraph to secure advertising from HSBC.

Oborne attributes these positions to a lack of integrity among managers and the publishing group.

Late last year I set to work on a story about the international banking giant HSBC. Well-known British Muslims had received letters out of the blue from HSBC informing them that their accounts had been closed. No reason was given, and it was made plain that there was no possibility of appeal. “It’s like having your water cut off,” one victim told me. When I submitted it for publication on the Telegraph website, I was at first told there would be no problem. When it was not published I made enquiries. I was fobbed off with excuses, then told there was a legal problem. When I asked the legal department, the lawyers were unaware of any difficulty. When I pushed the point, an executive took me aside and said that “there is a bit of an issue” with HSBC

I researched the newspaper’s coverage of HSBC. I learnt that Harry Wilson, the admirable banking correspondent of the Telegraph, had published an online story about HSBC based on a report from a Hong Kong analyst who had claimed there was a ‘black hole’ in the HSBC accounts. This story was swiftly removed from the Telegraph website, even though there were no legal problems. When I asked HSBC whether the bank had complained about Wilson’s article, or played any role in the decision to remove it, the bank declined to comment. Mr Wilson’s contemporaneous tweets referring to the story can be found here. The story itself, however, is no longer available on the website, as anybody trying to follow through the link can discover. Mr Wilson rather bravely raised this issue publicly at the ‘town hall meeting’ when Jason Seiken introduced himself to staff. He has since left the paper.

Combining killing stories and soft coverage with the knowledge of how crucial HSBC advertising is to the Telegraph and the picture becomes all too clear. Is this why HSBC acts so amazingly criminal – they believe they have bought off enough the press through advertising to avoid serious consequences?

Motivations aside, HSBC has proven through its continued financial fraud, tax evasion, and money laundering for drug dealers and terrorists that the bank is a net negative for the world and should simply be shut down and disassembled. It appears unlikely such a truth will be published by the Daily Telegraph.

Image by Formulax under Creative Commons license.

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Dan Wright

Dan Wright

Daniel Wright is a longtime blogger and currently writes for Shadowproof. He lives in New Jersey, by choice.

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