FCA drops HSBC tax evasion probe

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The FCA has reportedly ended its investigation into tax evasion at HSBC, with the bank dodging formal action from the regulator.

HSBC spent much of 2015 under fire for the actions of its Swiss private bank, which aided more than 1,000 UK customers evade tax between 2005 and 2007.

The FCA confirmed in February 2015 that it was collaborating with other agencies to investigate the matter.

However, Sky News reports the regulator has now dropped the probe, without ever launching a formal enforcement investigation.

The FCA was reportedly focused on the internal controls and culture at the bank, with HMRC targeting the actual evasion.

Spokeswomen for HSBC and the FCA both declined to comment.

The decision comes days after the FCA confirmed that it would drop a review into banking culture, instead promising to “engage individually with firms to encourage cultural change”.

Tax evasion at HSBC’s Swiss private bank provoked fury last year after reports revealed a whistleblower had passed details of thousands of accounts to French authorities in 2008.

Grilled by MPs in February last year, HSBC chairman Douglas Flint and chief executive Stuart Gulliver admitted conduct at the private bank was unacceptable, but blamed Swiss staff for the issues.

Despite more than 1,000 UK customers being identified by the so-called Falciani list, HMRC initially told MPs it had sought advice from the Crown Prosecution Services on whether to pursue just three individuals, and pursued a single prosecution.

However, Money Marketing later found that a fourth case had also been dropped.