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Panama: HSBC Sues Customer for Yahoo Postings

Categories: Latin America, Panama, Economics & Business, Freedom of Speech, Law

#1: From Panama's Noriegaville News: Uproar among expats about HSBC Panama SLAPP suit [1]

If the intention was to silence criticism of its service, the attempt has already miserably failed. A storm of protest and foreigners closing their accounts has so far been the result of a lawsuit HSBC Panama has brought against its client Peter Gordon for damages to the tune of $5,000,000 as a result of the defendant criticizing HSBC's service in two messages on a members-only Yahoo group and in 19 private letters to the bank…Read the complete post [1]!

#2: From Chiriqui Chatter: HSBC vs. Peter Gordon [2]

Once upon a time, a long long time ago, there used to be a contributor in many of the Panama Yahoo groups by the name of Peter Gordon. All of a sudden he quit posting. Recently, Don Winner explained why Peter had become so mute.

It appears that Peter Gordon had complained about the service he was given by HSBC on many of the Yahoo groups that he participated in. When the dust settles, maybe the full story will come out. However, for now, it appears that HSBC (according to Don Winner’s article [3]) is suing Peter Gordon to the tune of $5,000,000. As Don says, “Holy Crap, Batman”Read More [2]

A visitor's comment on this thread, regarding the same issue reads:

In the US HSBC, which we should remember is the Hong Kong Shanghai Bank, has enforced such oppressive contracts that one must now use binding arbitration. If HSBC slaps the customer with a $39 late fee it would cost between $5000 and $10,000 to dispute the fee. Obviously it will not happen. Having said that please remember that Shea v Household (HSBC) claimed late application of payments as far back as 1994. It still happens today. HSBC settled Shea v Household for $11 million (USD).

From credit cards to banking to mortgages to sub-prime mortgages HSBC has been likened to Providian, where high interest, overlimit fees, and late charges finally atttracted the attention of regulators. While perhaps guilty of the same and well deserving of the Providian comparison, HSBC decided on another path.

Sue customers, hold them to binding arbitration, and change US bankruptcy laws. Follow up by changing US postal regulations so one cannot track statements. Then structure HSBC USA whereby one holding company owns another which owns another. In the end the final holding company claims state regulation and not federal regulation and stalls any investigation. (T. Blake [4])

#3: From HSBC Interactive: HSBC Sues Customer for Yahoo Postings [5]

I am a US citizen living in Panama. I recently learned of a very disturbing lawsuit filed by the multi national banking conglomerate HSBC in Panama – a country where anyone can be criminally prosecuted or civilly sued for defamation even if the statements that are the subject of the suit are absolutely true (truth is not a defense). The suit was filed by HSBC’s Panama branch, which is (I believe) an affiliate of the US corporation, against a British resident of Panama, Peter Gordon.

Peter had been a customer of HSBC Panama but cancelled his accounts because he was unsatisfied with HSBC’s service and felt they were nickel and diming him with excessive and unwarranted fees.

He posted numerous messages on several yahoo groups catering to foreign expats living in (or planning to move to) Panama warning people not to bank with HSBC because of poor service and excessive fees. Last year, the bank sued him civilly for defamation based solely on the yahoo
group postings (the suit seeks $5 million dollars in “lost business”) and got an order attaching not only his personal assets, but also the assets of a charitable foundation he had set up. (Panama law allows the plaintiff in a lawsuit to attach the defendant’s assets and freeze them until the lawsuit is resolved, which usually takes years.) Read More… [5]

#4: From Panama Guide: And This is Why you Can't Just Run your Mouth [3]

I happened to be in the Sala Civil of Panama's Supreme Court this afternoon, and I ran into a public announcement in the case of HSBC vs. Peter Gordon. According to the case file (which I read) HSBC is suing Peter Gordon for $5 million dollars in a civil case, alleging damages caused by Mr. Gordon through email exchanges on Internet discussion groups, as well as letters and other means of communications. The case file that I read was an attempt by Mr. Gordon's lawyers to have a "secuestro" removed from a private foundation called "Geelong [6]." Read More… [3]