The chief executive of HSBC has been accused of pressuring the bank’s staff to give a £40m loan to the real estate company his daughter worked at.
Noel Quinn, chief executive of the FTSE 100 lender, and senior managers at HSBC allegedly intervened in 2014 to give struggling housebuilder Mar City a £40m credit facility and handed the couple behind the business a £10m personal loan.
The claims are made in a lawsuit being brought by Tony and Maggie Ryan, the former controlling shareholders of Mar City.
Mr Quinn was a “long standing personal” friend of Mr and Mrs Ryan, according to the lawsuit. It alleges that Mr Quinn encouraged his friends to take the loan. HSBC is accused of using the loans to effectively take control of the company and drive it into insolvency.
Mar City, which was listed on London’s junior Aim market, ultimately collapsed into administration in 2016.
HSBC denies all of the allegations, with lawyers acting for the bank saying the accusations made in the suit “are selective, inaccurate and incomplete”. They added that inaccuracies in the couple’s evidence “are too numerous for HSBC to address each and every one”.
The bank’s lawyers said Mr and Mrs Ryan do not have an explanation about how Mar City could have been saved or how HSBC prioritised its own interest over the real estate company.
Bridget Lucas, a barrister acting for the bank, said at a High Court hearing on Wednesday that the couple offer “no explanations as to which assets of MCPLC were supposedly stripped”.
Mr Quinn, who was head of HSBC’s Asia Pacific bank at the time, also denies telling Mr Ryan that the loan management unit at the bank was “like the wild west”.
Separately, investor pressure to split HSBC’s booming Asian business off from its stagnant Western operations continues to mount.
Ken Lui, an investor who runs a group campaigning for a spin-off of the Asian business, has called an informal shareholder meeting in Hong Kong next week to make his case for a split.
The lobbying comes ahead of the bank’s annual meeting in Birmingham in May.
HSBC has been forced to give shareholders a vote on conducting a strategic overhaul of the business, including spinning out its Asian arm, following a request from Mr Lui.
A spokesman for HSBC was contacted for comment.