KYC360 News

HSBC will pay 300 million euros ($353 million) to settle tax offences charges involving its private bank in Switzerland.

The news comes after a lengthy investigation in which a French government investigation found HSBC clients concealed their assets from tax authorities in France.

The agreement will end proceedings against HSBC, although it is understood that two former executives of the Swiss unit may still face legal action.

“The French Government’s investigation found that numerous French tax payers had not declared to the tax authorities the assets they held in the books of the Swiss Private Bank and that the Swiss Private Bank provided French clients with services which were found to have been used to conceal their assets,” HSBC said in an emailed statement.

“The agreement between the Swiss private bank and the National Financial Prosecutor is the first such agreement entered into under the Judicial Convention of Public Interest since the mechanism was introduced in France in late 2016,” the statement explained.

The case against HSBC made headlines globally after former IT employee Herve Falciani leaked client data in 2008, a development which blew-up to become the “Swiss leaks”.

Falciani was sentenced to five years in prison by a Swiss court in November 2015.

He was convicted in his absence as he did not attend the trial.

In the United Kingdom, HSBC bosses were called to appear before a parliamentary committee to explain the operations and shortfalls of the unit, after it was revealed that it aided clients to avoid tax and shift bricks of cash out of the country.

British watchdog the Financial Conduct Authority initially said it was also looking at the bank’s working practices, but later concluded that it would not take formal action against it.

In 2015 HSBC agreed to pay 40 million Swiss francs to the Swiss government for money laundering deficiencies regarding the same unit.

By Irene Madongo

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