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.