HSBC CEO Gulliver Issues Apology Over Swiss Unit’s Tax Evasion (Bloomberg)
HSBC Holdings Plc Chief Executive Officer Stuart Gulliver offered “sincerest apologies” following fresh details of how the bank’s Swiss unit helped customers evade taxes. The revelations were a “painful experience” for the bank, Gulliver, 55, wrote in full-page advertisements published in several British newspapers including the Sunday Times. “Since 2008, our Swiss private bank has been completely overhauled,” he said. “We have absolutely no appetite to do business with clients who are evading their taxes or who fail to meet our financial crime compliance standards.” HSBC has come under political fire after the publication of a report by the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists this month showed details of how its Swiss unit handled accounts for tax evaders and criminals. Gulliver, who took over as CEO in 2011, said Europe’s largest lender has since toughened internal controls and cut some clients at the Swiss private bank.
Greece Faces Crunch Talks After Show of Domestic Support (Bloomberg)
Greece’s government faces crunch time in its standoff with international creditors as euro-area finance ministers prepare to reconvene in Brussels to try and break an impasse over financing Europe’s most indebted state. Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis leads a Greek government delegation back to Brussels Monday buoyed by a demonstration of support in front of Parliament in central Athens the previous evening that police put at more than 20,000 people. His goal is to secure a bridge accord that allows Greece the time and financial space to negotiate a post-bailout era.
Greek Exit From Eurozone Would Be Worst Option, Says Bailout Fund Chief (WSJ)
An exit from the eurozone would be “the most expensive solution both for Greece and for the euro area,” said Klaus Regling, the head of the European Stability Mechanism, in a transcript of an interview with German broadcaster Phoenix. “That’s why we try to prevent precisely this.”
Apple studies self-driving car, auto industry source says (Reuters)
The Cupertino, California-based maker of phones, computers and, soon, watches is exploring how to make an entire vehicle, not just designing automotive software or individual components, the auto industry source said. "They don't appear to want a lot of help from carmakers," said the source, who declined to be named.
Man and woman have afternoon sex in front of shoppers after first meeting (UPI)
Shoppers gawked as a man and woman who had just met began having sex in public on Sunday afternoon, according to police and witnesses. The two had reportedly just met on a trolley before rolling around and kissing on the ground at about 3:30 p.m. in front of a Christina's dress shop in Chula Vista, Calif. Stunned shoppers gathered to watch, and after 15 minutes the man had stripped bare atop the woman, who at that point was nude except for a skirt. "Her legs were in the air and the guy was on top," witness Christy Peterson, who recorded video of the incident, told KGTV. "We were so shocked our mouths were just opened." Peterson said witnesses included a "woman with her baby and 16-, 17-, 18-year-old girls here to shop for prom," saying they "got the shock of their life." Peterson called police after security failed to show up. The two seemed unconcerned, she said. "They were like cuddled up while police were giving them tickets," Peterson said, adding that she heard police say the man was not yet 21 and that the woman was 37-years-old. The woman was given a citation, but officers handcuffed the man and took him away. The two reportedly were unaware of each other's names.
New Report Says Computer Criminals Stole Millions From Banks (WSJ)
A Russian-speaking gang of computer criminals has stolen millions of dollars since late 2013 from banks in Russia, Eastern Europe and the U.S., according to a report from Kaspersky Lab ZAO, a Russian computer-security firm. It is unclear exactly how many, or which, banks were hit. Some U.S. financial-services executives have been briefed on the findings, people familiar with the briefings said.
‘Fifty Shades’ Steamy Tale Sets Record for Valentine’s Day (Bloomberg)
The R-rated picture, from Comcast Corp.’s Universal Pictures, opened with sales of $81.7 million from Friday to Sunday in the U.S. and Canada, researcher Rentrak Corp. said in an e-mailed statement. Forecasters say it may reach $95 million over the extended Presidents Day weekend. “Fifty Shades” benefited from Valentine’s Day falling over a holiday weekend, along with deft marketing and reviews that, while criticizing its sadomasochistic theme, stoked the interest of moviegoers. It’s already the fastest-selling R-rated film, according to ticket seller Fandango.com, and is boosting prospects for a record-breaking 2015 for cinema owners.
Swiss banks trade Zurich's costly charm for Polish provinces (Reuters)
Economic imperatives are forcing the banks to transfer some of their functions to cheaper locations and swap lakeside Zurich, with its streets lined with luxury boutiques, for the rougher-edged charm of Krakow and Wroclaw. Even before the Swiss central bank abandoned its cap on the currency in January, the cost of taking on someone in Poland was just 50 to 60 percent as much as hiring an equivalent employee in Switzerland, according to two industry sources.
Hedgie Richard Perry joins Herbalife exodus (NYP)
Billionaire investor Richard Perry is the latest hedge-fund heavyweight to exit Herbalife, following on the heels of George Soros. Perry dumped his entire 5.575 million-share stake during the fourth quarter, according to a filing Friday. Herbalife dragged down Perry’s returns last year. As the stock fell more than 50 percent in 2014, his flagship fund lost 3.37 percent.
Google co-founders plan to sell $4.4B of stock (FT)
Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have revealed plans to sell shares currently worth $4.4 billion over the next two years, in a move that would leave them little room for further sales without ending their combined control of the company. The disposal plans, revealed in a regulatory filing, would leave the Google founders with barely half the shares they held when they took Google public in 2004. However, their remaining combined stake would still be worth nearly $45 billion.
Robbers Wore Boxershorts On Their Heads: Cops (AP)
Oregon State Police say two men have been arrested in a southern Oregon convenience store robbery in which the robbers' "hoods" were actually boxer brief-style underwear in a camouflage pattern. Lt. Josh Brooks said Friday that a trooper acting on a tip determined that one suspect in the Sept. 19, 2014, robbery of an AM/PM store in Eagle Point was in custody in Florence, Oregon, on unrelated matters. Brooks says that while interviewing that man, the trooper developed information that led to the second suspect.
Programming Note: We're on a national holiday-esque schedule today. Opening/closing wraps with some light posting in between, which is how Washington and Lincoln would've wanted it. We'll see you back here in full force on Tuesday.