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HSBC to face new criminal charges

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HSBC is to be subject to a formal criminal investigation in France, over allegations that the bank helped clients evade tax through its Swiss private banking arm.

French authorities have completed a two year investigation into the activities of the bank’s Swiss private banking arm in 2006 and 2007, and have recommended HSBC stands trial; France’s public prosecutor must now decide whether to press charges.

French authorities have ordered the bank to pay €1bn (£727m) bail; a spokesperson has dubbed the figure “unwarranted and excessive…without legal basis.”

“HSBC intends to appeal the charge and will defend itself vigorously in any future proceedings.”

Allegations of misconduct by HSBC’s private banking arm in Switzerland came to light five years ago, when whistleblower Herve Falciani flagged over 30,000 accounts to authorities across Europe. Of that total, 7,000 were British – it is unknown at present how many were French.

Commenting on the news, Jon Peace of Nomura said the bail was “larger than we were expecting.”

However, Peace also noted that the news had not caused adverse reaction in the markets. In fact, shares in HSBC rose 2.6 per cent (to £6.02) in the wake of the news. “The lack of negative response in respect of the bank’s share price suggests the market is comfortable that the issue will be manageable for the bank,” Peace concluded.



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