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Geneva, 14 November 2017 – HSBC has reached an agreement with French authorities to settle a long-standing investigation related to historical client solicitation and tax offences involving HSBC Private Bank (Suisse) SA (‘Swiss Private Bank’). The Swiss Private Bank will pay EUR 300 million to the French authorities.
HSBC is pleased to resolve this legacy investigation which relates to conduct that took place many years ago. HSBC has publicly acknowledged historical control weaknesses at the Swiss Private Bank on a number of occasions and has taken firm steps to address them.
The French Government’s investigation found that numerous French tax payers had not declared to the tax authorities the assets they held in the books of the Swiss Private Bank and that the Swiss Private Bank provided French clients with services which were found to have been used to conceal their assets.
The settlement agreement notes the significant repositioning of the Swiss Private Bank since the relevant period. This has included refocusing and reducing the client base to serve HSBC’s most important Group clients; reinforcing the compliance function; and putting in place enhanced global policies on tax compliance, anti-money laundering and cross-border activity. HSBC fully supports the OECD’s Common Reporting Standard for Automatic Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes, and welcomes the additional transparency this initiative will provide.
The agreement between the Swiss Private Bank and the National Financial Prosecutor is the first such agreement entered into under the Judicial Convention of Public Interest since the mechanism was introduced in France in late 2016. Under the terms of the law, such an agreement does not entail any finding of guilt against the Swiss Private Bank. The amount of the fine has been fully provisioned.
The investigation regarding HSBC Holdings has been dismissed.
Media release is available for download (89KB, PDF)