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Things just got worse for HSBC: Here's what you need to know

HSBC Former CEO Stephen Green Tory PeerREUTERS/Tyrone SiuFormer HSBC CEO and Chairman Stephen Green

Things just got worse for HSBC.

Its private banking arm faces new criminal charges after a French magistrate officially requested that the Swiss bank be brought to trial over a suspected tax-dodging scheme for wealthy customers, the Guardian reports.

The request for trial comes after a series of allegations against the bank that date back to 2008, when former HSBC employee Herve Falciani handed over thousands of confidential files from the bank to French tax authorities.

Here’s what you need know about the scandal so far:

The scandal has particular political interest in the UK. HSBC Chairman Douglas Flint and CEO Stuart Gulliver were interrogated by the Treasury Select Committee in the House of Commons on February 25.

Stephen Green, Chairman of HSBC during the period of the accusations, was Minister of State for Trade and Investments from 2011 to 2013 and is currently a Lord for the Conservatives.

Gulliver called the Swiss Private Banking unit “a source of shame and reputational damage” in the past, but he had to answer why he used to own a secret Swiss bank account that allowed him to shelter £5 million ($US7.35 million) through a company based in Panama.

Gulliver admitted the account “looked strange,” but claimed the account was used to keep his paychecks hidden from other employers at HSBC.

Tax authorities in France, Spain, and the UK have already collected more than £500 million ($US735 million) from Swiss accounts at HSBC, but the total assets disclosed by Falciani are worth £78 billion ($US114 billion).

HSBC now has one month to reply to the accusations in France, after which the French magistrates will decide whether to proceed with a trial.

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