HSBC, Europe's largest bank by market value, saw its full-year net income drop by 16 percent to $13.7 billion amid geopolitical headwinds and consolidation in the group.
Chief Executive Officer Stuart Gulliver acknowledged Monday that 2014 profits disappointed, but said a tough fourth quarter "masked some of the progress made over the preceding three quarters."
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The disappointing results come as HSBC is being pummeled by allegations that its Swiss private bank helped the wealthy evade taxes. The Guardian on Monday alleged that Gulliver had a personal account at the bank.
HSBC Chairman Douglas Flint insisted the bank had cleaned up past behavior and said the Swiss allegations "remind us of how much there still is to do and how far society's expectations have changed in terms of banks' responsibilities."