Swiss tax probe could cost HSBC more than $1.5 billion

Possible penalties would stem from multiple investigations into claims Swiss private bank unit helped clients evade paying taxes.

Multiple investigations into claims its Swiss private bank unit helped clients evade paying taxesHSBC Holdings said it could face penalties exceeding $1.5 billion (€1.2 billion) stemming from multiple investigations into claims its Swiss private bank unit helped clients evade paying taxes.

Authorities in the US, Belgium, Argentina, India, Spain and elsewhere are probing allegations of tax evasion or tax fraud, money laundering and unlawful cross-border banking solicitation at the Swiss private bank, HSBC disclosed in its annual report Tuesday.

The bank paid the French government €300 million in November to settle allegations it helped clients hide assets from local tax authorities, writes luxtimes.lu.

HSBC has been dogged by a series of criminal investigations.

Last month, the firm paid the Justice Department $100 million to settle allegations it had rigged clients’ currency transactions, part of a probe that led to the conviction of one former executive.

The London-based bank had only just been released from a five-year deferred-prosecution agreement with the Justice Department for helping Mexican drug cartels launder money and breaching international sanctions by doing business with Iran.

Stuart Gulliver, whose last day as HSBC’s chief executive was today after seven years in charge, said the bank had moved on from the mistakes of the past.

“We have implemented global standards and financial controls to the highest levels,” Gulliver said on a call with journalists Tuesday.

“HSBC is in a stronger and better position today to protect itself from bad actors than we were in 2010.”

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