London, Feb 24: At the centre of a probe into black money allegedly stashed by Indians in Swiss banks, global banking giant HSBC increased its headcount in India by 1,000 last year to 32,000 -- the second highest after the UK.
As per the bank's latest annual report, it had a total worldwide workforce of 2,66,000 full-time and part-time employees at the end of 2014. This marked an increase from 2,63,000 at the end of 2013, but still below 2,70,000 at the end of 2012.
India has been ranked second among its "main centres of employment" after the UK, where it employed 48,000 persons.
The Indian headcount has risen from 31,000 at the end of 2013, while that in the UK has also grown from 46,000. On the other hand, the US headcount has fallen from 16,000 to 15,000, the bank said in its annual report.
The bank has listed India as one of the seven 'priority growth markets' within Asia. The India headcount rose for the second consecutive year in 2014, after dipping for the four straight years till 2012, when its total employee base in the country stood at 30,000.
The UK-based global banking giant had as many as 37,000 employees in India at the end of 2008. HSBC is facing a multi-nation probe for "alleged tax evasion, money laundering and unlawful cross-border banking solicitation" and it disclosed on Monday that it has been served summons by the Indian tax department as well.
A leaked list of over one lakh account holders in HSBC's Swiss banking unit, including 1,195 Indians, recently became public, prompting authorities in India and many other countries to launch their investigations to ascertain whether these accounts had illicit money stashed abroad.
The bank has also received "subpoenas and requests for information" from the US and other authorities with respect to certain US-based clients of an HSBC company in India. This case relates to some NRIs facing investigation in the US for alleged violation of the American tax laws.
HSBC saw its revenue and profits rise in India last year even as it reported a 17 per cent fall in global profits for 2014. Its India revenue rose by 10 per cent to USD 1.83 billion, while profit was up 7 per cent to USD 700 million. The bank said the economic recovery in India remained constrained last year, although a new government with a strong mandate boosted market sentiments.
Announcing its full-year results, the bank also said that its operations are exposed to various "geopolitical risks" which increased during 2014 and included high tensions over the line of control between India and Pakistan. The bank continued to grow its balance sheet in India in commercial banking, particularly by helping UK corporations to invest in India during 2014.
In global banking and markets segment also, HSBC was adviser on two of the largest M&A transactions in the country in 2014, and in Wealth Management it launched Managed Solutions, a multi-asset fund series.