HSBC helped rich clients dodge tax, according to a report released by a group of investigative journalists.
Details from thousands of accounts held at the banking giant’s Swiss arm were leaked by a whistleblower in 2007 and analysed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and more than 50 other media outlets around the world, including the Guardian newspaper in the UK.
Their investigations revealed that HSBC’s Swiss private bank allowed foreign customers to withdraw foreign currency of little use in Switzerland, and marketed schemes to allow wealthy customers to avoid paying taxes in Europe.
HSBC has responded to media reports of misconduct saying ,“We acknowledge and are accountable for past compliance and control failures.”
The bank is now facing criminal investigations in France, Belgium, the US and Argentina. So far there have been no cases brought in the UK.
It is being hailed as the biggest banking leak in history and is likely to lead to calls for a crackdown in offshore tax havens.