In a regulatory statement the bank clearly couldn’t contain its outrage after it was charged €1 billion (£726 million, $US107.5 billion) for bail in the meantime.
HSBC posted the following statement (emphasis ours):
On 8 April 2015, HSBC Holdings plc was informed that it has been placed under formal criminal investigation (‘mise en examen’) by the French magistrates in connection with the conduct of HSBC’s Swiss Private Bank in 2006 and 2007 for alleged tax-related offenses. A EUR1bn bail was imposed.
HSBC Holdings plc believes the French magistrates’ decision is without legal basis and the bail is unwarranted and excessive. It intends to appeal and will defend itself vigorously in any future proceedings.
In March, the French financial state prosecutor requested that HSBC’s Swiss Private Bank be sent to criminal trial over a number of tax-related offenses involving around 3,000 French taxpayers.
The information, which the French authorities acted upon, stems from the former HSBC employee and whistleblower Herve Falciani.
In 2008, he handed over 100,000 HSBC client accounts to French authorities in 2008. In total, the accounts are worth £78 billion in assets. Since then, France, Spain and the UK have recovered over £500 million in tax from the data.
On February 18, police raided HSBC’s Switzerland office in Geneva while the Swiss prosecution office confirmed it was investigating the subsidiary and “persons unknown for suspected aggravated money laundering.”
HSBC’s Swiss Private Bank is already under investigation in Germany and France for tax-related offences.
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