In December 2011 Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint spoke at an RAS Africa Business Breakfast. I was chairing it and in the question and answer session I asked him about HSBC's role in corporate companies mis-invoicing and money laundering and the subsequent loss of revenue to African countries. He denied that HSBC was involved in any such practices.
After he left his successor Stuart Gulliver admitted that HSBC's anti-money laundering should have been stronger and more effective. "We failed to spot and deal with unacceptable behaviour."
Now the truth is out but the man - who earned £25 million a year as the chairman of HSBC and is an Anglican clergyman and member of the House of Lords - seems not to be interested in it. He is refusing to say anything. This is a crucial test for the UK's ability to deal with the financial machinations which result in the impoverishment of Africa.
Richard Dowden is Director of the Royal African Society.