UK taxman probes HSBC accounts after data leak

Fri Nov 9, 2012 4:58pm EST
 
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LONDON (Reuters) - HSBC HSBA.L, Europe's biggest bank, is at the center of an investigation by British tax authorities into leaked data that a newspaper said showed it provided accounts in the tax haven of Jersey for alleged criminals.

The authorities confirmed they were looking into details of clients in the Channel island after being handed a list of names, addresses and account balances.

"We can confirm we have received the data and we are studying it. We receive information from a very wide range of sources which we use to ensure the tax rules are being respected," HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) said in a statement.

HSBC said it was investigating the alleged loss of client data, first reported in the Daily Telegraph, "as a matter of urgency".

The Telegraph said some of the clients were convicted criminals or facing criminal allegations.

"We have not been notified of any investigation in relation to this matter by HMRC or any other authority but, should we receive notification, we will cooperate fully with the authorities," the bank said on Friday.

HSBC said it was "fully committed to adoption of the highest global standards including the procedures for the acceptance of clients".

Like all banks, HSBC, which has been criticized by U.S. regulators for lax anti-money-laundering controls in Mexico and elsewhere and last year saw thousands of its Swiss clients probed by the British taxman, is obliged to report to authorities any suspicions about the source of money deposited in its accounts.

The bank's London-listed shares fell 0.33 percent to 600.9 pence on Friday, but outperformed the European banking index .SX7P, which dropped 1.18 percent.   Continued...

 
The HSBC building is seen on Canary Wharf in London May 11, 2011 REUTERS/Olivia Harris