9th February 2015
HSBC has been hit by scandal as a report from the BBC claims that Britain’s largest bank helped well-heeled customers side step their UK tax obligations.
According to BBC Panorama, the accounts from HSBC’s Swiss private bank, which were leaked by a whistleblower some eight years ago, show that the group aided clients in their bid to dodge tax and offered deals to help them stay ahead of the law.
The report said that HSBC has admitted that some individuals took advantage of bank secrecy but it urged that it has now “fundamentally changed”.
Following the news while shares in HSBC have fallen by almost 2% or 9.71p to 611.09p by 9.08am.
While offshore accounts are not illegal, many people however use them to cover-up cash from the authorities.
The BBC highlighted that the French authorities examined 2008’s stolen data and found that almost 100% of their citizens on the list were probably evading tax.
The information was obtained by French newspaper Le Monde and in a joint investigation, the documents have been passed to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, the Guardian newspaper, Panorama and more than 50 media outlets globally.
The documents apparently include information on some 7,000 UK customers and many of their accounts have not been declared.
The BBC states that HSBC did not only just turn a blind eye but in some instances it broke the law by helping its clients.
HSBC allegedly provided one family with a foreign credit card so they could withdraw their undeclared cash at overseas cashpoints.
The bank denies that all these account holders were evading tax but is facing criminal investigations in the US, France, Belgium and Argentina. It said it is “co-operating with relevant authorities” however in the UK, no action has been taken.
The Panorama documentary, ‘The Bank of Tax Cheats’, is being shown today, 9 February at 9pm on BBC1.