Facing a probe by Indian authorities into accounts held by Indians in Switzerland, global banking giant HSBC yesterday said it is cooperating with the authorities. The bank also disclosed a number of other investigations in various countries for "alleged tax evasion, money laundering and unlawful cross-border banking solicitation" and said it is cooperating with the relevant authorities in each of the ongoing matters.
"In February 2015, a public prosecutor in Switzerland commenced an investigation of HSBC Swiss Private Bank, and the Indian tax authority issued a summons and request for information to an HSBC company in India," the bank said in its interim report 2015.
The public prosecutor's investigation in Switzerland was closed in June 2015, the bank said, while adding that "with respect to each of these ongoing matters, HSBC is cooperating with the relevant authorities". It said, "There are many factors that may affect the range of outcomes, and the resulting financial impact, of these investigations and reviews, which could be significant."
A leaked list of over one lakh account holders in HSBC's Swiss banking unit, including 1,195 Indians, became public early this year, prompting authorities in India and many other countries to launch their investigations to ascertain whether these accounts had illicit money stashed abroad, reports PTI.
Separately, the UK-based bank said it has also received "subpoenas and requests for information" from the US and other authorities including with respect to US-based clients of an HSBC company in India. This case relates to some NRIs facing investigation in the US for alleged violation of the American tax laws.
On Swiss unit-related tax matters, HSBC said, "Various tax administration, regulatory and law enforcement authorities around the world, including in Belgium, France, Argentina and India, are conducting investigations and reviews of HSBC Swiss Private Bank in connection with allegations of tax evasion or tax fraud, money laundering and unlawful cross-border banking solicitation."
It further said that "in light of the recent media attention regarding these matters, it is possible that other tax administration, regulatory or law enforcement authorities will also initiate or enlarge similar investigations or regulatory proceedings.