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The big four

November 2017

Nations fight over climate financing

During the UN Climate Change conference, experts were in debate over the flow of finances from the developed to the developing world, reported Business Standard. Wendel Trio, Director of Climate Action Network Europe, said that limited progress has been made on the issues related to climate finance and how to deal with the catastrophic impacts of climate change, such as those witnessed recently including the hurricanes in the Caribbean. “The current snail’s pace of the talks does not match the urgency of climate action nor the speed of the renewable energy transition on the ground,” said Trio.

Obsidian Energy settles fraud charges

Canadian oil and gas producer Obsidian Energy has agreed to pay US$8.5 million to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission following a lawsuit accusing it of accounting fraud, reports The Globe and Mail. In a statement, Obsidian Energy said it agreed to pay the financial penalty without admitting or denying any of the allegations against it. Formerly known as Penn West Petroleum, the company’s executives allegedly created a scheme that ran from 2012 to 2014 to deceive investors about its financial condition by understating operating expenses.

HSBC to pay €300m to settle tax evasion probe

After a long-running investigation into tax evasion, HSBC’s Swiss Private Bank agreed this month to settle the probe by paying €300 million to French authorities. The investigation began in 2014 following a data leak by a former IT employee that involved thousands of French customers. According to the French financial prosecutor’s office, HSBC’s Swiss private banking unit had helped clients to evade their taxes. HSBC has acknowledged “control weakness” and has taken measures to address them, reported BBC News. Despite the case against HSBC being closed, former chief executive of HSBC’s Swiss Private Bank Peter Braunwalder and executive Judah Elmaleh remain under investigation and could face potential legal action.

 Big Four criticized over Paradise Papers

The “Paradise Papers” scandal, which exposed the widespread use of offshore tax avoidance structures, revealed the role the Big Four played in helping multinationals and the rich minimize their tax bills, the Financial Times reported. John McDonnell, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, criticized the firms, saying that “too many of the big accountancy firms in the U.K. are facilitating and profiting from tax dodging.” The Financial Reporting Council said it has “been made aware by some firms that details of advice on tax arrangements were among the Paradise Papers,” and that it was monitoring the situation. The Papers are a huge leak of financial documents, which lifts the lid on the offshore dealings of politicians, multinationals, celebrities and other high-net-worth individuals.