HSBC takes its name from its roots as the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, but there has long been a joke inside and outside the firm that the name stands for “How Simple Became Complicated”.
That complexity in part explains how the London-based bank ended up with the biggest fine ever imposed on a financial firm by U.S. regulators on Tuesday - an eye-watering $1.9 billion - after a lengthy U.S. probe showed sweeping problems at the bank. Lax controls had left HSBC as the “preferred financial institution” for drug traffickers and money launderers, U.S. prosecutors said this week.
The concern is that HSBC, Europe’s biggest bank, with more than 60 million customers across 84 countries, is unable to adequately monitor all its operations, a task made harder by its history of patchwork acquisitions.
Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras visited Bavaria on Sunday, charming former critics of Greece in the southern German state who once wished to eject his country from the euro zone, and departing with pledges of solidarity and support.
Samaras’ visit to Munich and dinner with Bavaria’s State Premier Horst Seehofer on Sunday night was another sign of the new thaw in Greek-German relations that started when Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Athens in October and was convinced of Athens’ commitment to painful reforms.
“We want to support the Greek government and the Greek people, and help them gain economic growth and competitiveness,” Seehofer said at a press conference with Samaras.
Seehofer added the Greeks deserved deep respect for their achievements. “They are on a good way to overcoming the causes of the crisis.”
Day Two of Cat Week here on the Reuters Tumblr. Here’s your cat fact and cat photo of the day.
Cat fact: Cats once busted an espionage event at the Holland embassy in Moscow, Russia. Two Siamese cats, much to the annoyance of their owners, kept clawing at the walls of the building and meowing. The cat owners investigated and found microphones inside the walls hidden by Russian spies. The cats apparently heard the microphones when they were activated. [source]
Photo: Street musician James Bowen busks with cat Bob in Covent Garden in London March 13, 2012. Bowen has written a book named “A Street Cat Named Bob” about the experiences of the then homeless pair and how they met. [REUTERS/Luke MacGregor]
We hereby dub this “Cat Week” on the Reuters Tumblr. Why? Because we can.
Here’s today’s cat photo:
Hungarian Istvan Puskas holds a kitten as he sits on his wooden chopper in Tiszaors, 161km (100 miles) east of Budapest, June 14, 2012. Puskas, a 52-year-old tractor driver, built his bike in two years from firewood. [REUTERS/Laszlo Balogh]
After three years of negotiations with city officials over hygiene issues, Austria opened its first cat cafe last Friday.
‘Cafe Neko’, “Neko” meaning cat in Japanese, was opened by Vienna resident Takako Ishimitsu, 47, from Japan.
Customers can stroke and interact with their five feline hosts, named Sonja, Thomas, Moritz, Luca and Momo, who all came from an animal shelter and now freely roam about the cafe and take naps. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger
A revision to Japan’s Animal Protection Law, due to come into force on June 1, will slap a curfew on the public display of cats and dogs, forcing cat cafes to shut up shop at 8 p.m.
“Everybody knows cats are really happy in the evening, with their big, cute eyes. So I just can’t understand why the people at the top are ignoring this. It’s really strange.”
Cat cafes have long been popular, catering to the many cat lovers who can’t keep the animals at home because of strict housing regulations that forbid pets in many apartments.
Visitors to Kawase’s cafe pay about 1,000 yen ($12) an hour to play with any of her 24 cats, who dart around the room chasing toys or sleep in baskets set on tables. Drinks are priced from around 300 yen each.
Read more: Japanese cat lovers snarl at new law