News in Brief: HSBC, energy prices, crowdfunding, cyber-attacks, EU lending

News in Brief

HSBC got off scot-free said MP

HM Revenue and Customs has wound up its inquiries into claims that HSBC helped wealthy clients evade tax.

The head of HMRC was accused by an MP of letting the bank get away “scot-free”, with just one person prosecuted over the allegations that the bank's Swiss branch turned a blind eye to hundreds of illegal activities.

Dame Lin Homer, who will step down as chief executive of HMRC in April 2016, said it was “unlikely” that HSBC would face prosecution, reported The Times.

Giving evidence to the public accounts committee, Homer said data passed to authorities by a whistleblower had been reviewed.

She added: “We have to progress on the basis of what we and the Crown Prosecution Service think is possible.”

Energy firms' costs 'hit five-year low'

Wholesale gas and electricity prices tumbled to £36.76 per megawatt hour at the end of 2015, the lowest in five years, according to a report.

Research by market analysts ICIS found this was due to mild weather and a lower global commodity price.

Pressure is mounting on the UK's big six energy suppliers to cut their prices in line with falling costs, reported the BBC.

Amber Rudd, who took over as energy secretary after 2015's general election, questioned the big six on whether their prices were reflecting the wholesale market.

The energy firms have said they are operating in a highly competitive environment.

Top crowdfunding investments revealed

Sugru, Workadobe and Cake were the three companies topping a popularity poll, reported a crowdfunding aggregator.

The OFF3R Popularity Index included more than 700 campaigns across 25 leading platforms.

The winning concept was Sugru, a mouldable glue product that smashed its £1m fundraising target by 338% on Crowdcube.

OFF3R tracked investment opportunities from sites such as Seedrs, Angel List and Crowdfunder, to reveal the top ten business concepts.

The findings are based on sentiment analysis, also known as opinion mining, which collates data from reviews and social media.

Cyber-attacks are a growing threat to businesses

Cyber incidents were cited as the most important long-term risk for companies, according to a survey.

Allianz Global Corporate and Specialty (AGCS) surveyed 800 risk managers and insurance experts, who also cited business and supply chain interruption (BI) and a competitive market environment as threats to companies.

Cyber-attacks, geo-political instability and technology failure are seen as the new drivers of BI losses; as oppose to traditional industrial risks such as property damage or fire.

“Studies show that it takes, on average, 90 days for businesses to discover they have been hacked,” said Jens Krickhahn, cyber insurance expert at AGCS.

“Often the incident is identified, not by the business itself, but by the customer or another stakeholder, which is why cyber risks pose a huge threat to a company’s reputation.”

EU bank sets record lending year for UK projects

The European Investment Bank (EIB) lent £5.88bn (€7.77bn) to UK projects in 2015, according to figures.

The EIB report found investment increased 10.8% on 2014’s lending, as reported by Gov.UK.

EIB loans fund infrastructure projects such as upgrading transport links, and building new hospitals and schools.

Investment in the UK accounted for 11.2% of all EIB lending to the 28 EU member states.

Since 2012 the UK has more than doubled the volume of EIB investment and increased its share of total lending within the EU by over a third (37%).