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France starts HSBC criminal probe and sets €1bn bail

HSBC has confirmed it is being investigated by French authorities, which have imposed a bail of 1bn as they probe alleged tax evasion offences linked to the Falciani List.

The list, first leaked to French authorities in 2008, contained details of more than 100,000 HSBC account holders which former HSBC worker and whistleblower Herve Falciani believed were evidence of staff in the firm’s Swiss private bank aiding customers in evading tax.

In a statement, the bank confirmed that it is under a formal criminal investigation by French magistrates in relation to the conduct of its Swiss private bank in 2006 and 2007.

The bank says: “HSBC Holdings plc believes the French magistrates’ decision is without legal basis and the bail is unwarranted and excessive.

“It intends to appeal and will defend itself vigorously in any future proceedings.”

The list emerged in the public eye after reports in February that a total of 1,100 accounts were passed to HMRC, but resulted in just a single successful prosecution.

Since then, Swiss police have raided the bank’s Geneva HQ over suspected money laundering, while French prosecutors were first reported to be seeking a criminal trial over suspected tax evasion in mid-March.


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There are 4 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Interesting to see if any individuals are prosecuted over this.

  2. Philip Gosling 9th April 2015 at 5:37 pm

    My thoughts are white collar crime should be punished more severely because these people have had it too easy for years.

    Why do shareholders pay the fines.Punish the Directors and senior management – no bonuses until fines paid off.

    No ” we must pay the going rate’ – well rubbish who wants to employ a crooked banker from HSBC.

  3. Whilst a company IS a separate legal entity, surely a computer is not making a decision to commit a criminal offence, a HUMAN BEING or several are either by a conscious decision or an act of omission through criminal incompetence.
    Individuals need to be held to account and not shareholders. If they “jump bail”, what are they going to do, put a ball and chain on the HSBC’s buildings or would it have more effect if they set bail against attendance of a CEO?
    The NatWest three were extradited from the UK to the USA using terrorist legislation, as was Mr Tobin (arms Dealer) and a UFO spotter with aspergers who got in to the Pentagon’s computers. None of these I suspect have stolen/damaged as much as some tax evaders (not that I am implying HSBC is guilty, I have no idea as I have seen no evidence just hearsay)

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