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February 22, 2018

HSBC’s Swiss private bank faces $1.5bn fine for alleged tax evasion

HSBC has said its Swiss private bank may have to pay as much as $1.5bn in fines to settle multiple allegations of tax dodging, money laundering and unlawful cross-border banking solicitation.

The UK-based lender said that it is currently being probed by different tax authorities in the US, Belgium, Argentina, and India.

The bank has set aside $604m to settle the probes and said it is cooperating with authorities.

“Based on the information currently available, management’s estimate of the possible aggregate penalties that might arise as a result of the matters in respect of which it is practicable to form estimates is up to or exceeding $1.5bn, including amounts for which a provision has been recognised. Due to uncertainties and limitations of these estimates, the ultimate penalties could differ significantly from this amount,” the bank said in its latest earnings statement.

HSBC has faced various allegations of fraud in the recent times. Only last month, the bank agreed to pay $101.5m to settle a US Justice Department probe into currency rate rigging.

In November 2017, the bank’s Swiss private banking arm agreed to pay €300m to French authorities to resolve charges of aiding tax evasion.

In the same month, HSBC Private Bank (Suisse) was penalised HKD400m ($51.1m) for systemic failures in selling structured products linked to collapsed US investment bank Lehman Brothers.

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