Lord Green: Government 'has confidence' in ex-HSBC chief

The government says it has "every confidence" in trade minister Lord Green, despite Labour questioning his former role as chairman of HSBC.

A US Senate committee says "suspicious" funds from countries including Mexico and Syria passed through the bank during Lord Green's time there.

He has declined to comment, but Labour urged him to do so.

The government said there had been no "personal criticism" in the report and the minister was doing a "great" job.

Last week's Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations' report into HSBC said it had been used as conduit for money moved around by drugs lords and "rogue nations".

This had included suspicious funds from countries including Mexico, Iran and Syria had passed through the bank.

'Open as possible'

But the leader of the House of Lords, Lord Strathclyde, told peers that Lord Green - chairman of HSBC from 2006 to 2010 - was "accountable to this House only for his work as a minister" and not his previous career as a banker.

He added: "Her Majesty's government has every confidence in Lord Green's ability to fulfil his duties."

Image caption Lord Green was chairman of HSBC between 2006 and 2010

Lord Strathclyde praised his "experience, expertise and enthusiasm", adding that the minister was providing "great support to British business".

He was responding to a question from his Labour shadow, Baroness Royall, who said: "Questions have been asked about Lord Green's present ministerial role."

She added that ministers "should be as open as possible with Parliament and the public" and urged the government to ensure Lord Green faced peers to "place on record what he knew, and when".

This would allow him to "dispel once and for" any questions about his conduct, Baroness Royall concluded.

But Lord Strathclyde said: "There was no evidence of personal wrongdoing by my learned friend. There was, indeed, no personal criticism of my colleague."

Lord Butler, a former head of the UK's civil service and non-executive director of HSBC, said there was a "distinction between accountability and responsibility".

He added: "There is no possible way in which the chairman and chief executive can be responsible for everything that happens in a worldwide group the size of HSBC."

Lord Green took ministerial office in January last year, after a 28-year career at HSBC.

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