HSBC Holdings plc, Britain’s largest banking group in terms of market value, revealed Thursday it had been placed under formal criminal investigation by French magistrates over the tax evasion issues of its Swiss private banking arm.
taxThe British bank said it was informed on Wednesday that French magistrates were examining “the conduct of its Swiss private bank in 2006 and 2007 for alleged tax-related offences.”
French magistrates have ordered HSBC to post a one-billion-euro (or 1.07 billion U.S. dollars) bail to cover a potential fine.
HSBC claimed the court’s decision was “without legal basis” and bail was “unwarranted and excessive.” The banking group said it intended to appeal and defend itself vigorously in any future proceedings.
Last month, Argentina’s tax chief said the country demanded HSBC to repatriate 3.5 billion dollars that allegedly moved from the country to its Swiss private bank, adding fuel to the fire in the fight between regulators and HSBC.
In early February, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, a Washington-based publication, reported that HSBC’s Swiss unit handled accounts for tax evaders and criminals during the period from 2005 to 2007.
HSBC’s top executives apologized for its Swiss unit’s “unacceptable” practice in the hearings at the House of Commons in London afterward.?Enditem

Source: Xinhua


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