• Switzerland's news in English
Swiss Leaks
Fallout from HSBC leaks continues in UK and US
Photo: AFP/File

Fallout from HSBC leaks continues in UK and US

AFP · 11 Feb 2015, 09:48

Published: 11 Feb 2015 09:48 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Martin Wheatley, chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), said on Tuesday that it did not know about the claims regarding the London-based bank's Swiss division before they emerged in a cache of secret files published last weekend.
HM Revenue and Customs, Britain's tax authority, was passed information about 3,600 UK businesses and individuals in 2010 and recouped more than £135 million ($206 million).
But Wheatley told parliament's Treasury committee: "We didn't have the specific allegations as far as I'm aware from HMRC on this particular incident."
Committee members responded with incredulity, given that the FCA has been working closely with HSBC since 2013 to improve its implementation of anti-money laundering rules following a string of high-profile controversies at the bank.
HMRC chief executive Lin Homer later said that when it was passed files by the French authorities on HSBC's Swiss dealings in 2010, it was prohibited from sharing the information.
"HMRC received the HSBC data under very strict conditions, which limited our use of it to pursuing offshore tax evasion and prevented us from sharing the data with other law enforcement authorities," she said.
"Under these restrictions, we have not been able to seek prosecution for other potential offences, such as money laundering."
Homer said that French authorities on Monday had promised to "provide all assistance necessary to allow HMRC to exploit the data to its fullest".
She said tax officials had also contacted the investigative journalists behind the leaks for more information.
The latest allegations sparked a political row over why Britain did not act sooner.
HMRC said it had flagged to prosecutors three potential criminal cases in the files but that only one of these led to a prosecution.
A spokeswoman for Prime Minister David Cameron said on Tuesday that ministers had also been kept in the dark about the HMRC investigation.
Hervé Falciani, an IT worker at HSBC's private bank in Geneva, stole the files in 2007 and passed them to French authorities, but they had not been previously made public.
Their publication on Sunday, detailing claims that HSBC's Swiss division helped clients in more than 200 countries evade taxes on accounts containing $119 billion (104 billion euros), caused global shock waves.
Margaret Hodge, chairwoman of the British parliament's public accounts committee, said late Monday that it would be launching an urgent inquiry into the allegations.
HSBC has acknowledged there had been problems in its Swiss private banking subsidiary, but said that it had been overhauled and now has strong controls in place.

HSBC 'not immune' from fresh US charges

Story continues below…

Meanwhile, in the US, HSBC's 2012 criminal settlement with the justice department does not protect the bank from fraud or tax evasion charges, Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch told lawmakers.
In December 2012, HSBC agreed to pay $1.9 billion in penalties and restitution over charges it failed to have an effective money laundering program and conducted illegal transactions on behalf of Iran, Sudan and other sanctioned countries.
The 2012 agreement with HSBC was "limited to violations of the Bank Secrecy Act for failures to maintain an adequate anti-money laundering program and for sanctions violations," Lynch said in a letter to US senators dated Monday.
The settlement "explicitly mentions that the agreement does not bind the Department's Tax Division, nor the Fraud Section of the Criminal Division," said Lynch.
Lynch's comments in a letter to US senators considering her nomination to lead the Justice Department showed continued fallout from the so-called "Swiss Leaks" scandal.
Documents published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists showed the Swiss division of London-based HSBC helped wealthy clients from around the world evade taxes on accounts containing some $119 billion.
The documents show that HSBC opened Swiss accounts for international criminals, businessmen, politicians and celebrities, according to the ICIJ.
In addition to investigations into HSBC's activities in the UK and US, a Belgian judge was said to be considering international arrest warrants for directors of HSBC's Swiss division.

For more news from Switzerland, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Swiss woman wins headscarf court battle
Photo: Jack Guez / AFP file picture

A Swiss court has ruled against a company that fired a longtime employee after she began wearing the Muslim headscarf, marking one of the first such rulings in Switzerland, media reported Sunday.

Montreux throws hat in Olympic rings
Could Montreux host the 2026 Games? Photo: Ivo Scholz/Swiss Tourism

Montreux is to put itself forward as the host city for the 2026 winter Olympics as part of a potential bid by the cantons of Valais and Vaud.

Geneva car share scheme could help reduce city traffic
Catch a Car is aimed at short hops within a city. Photo: Catch a Car

Catch a Car, already in Basel, launches in Geneva next month.

Swiss women will ‘work for free’ for the rest of year
Female employees in Switzerland earn 19.3 percent less than their male colleagues. File photo: Randy Kashka

Switzerland's gender pay gap means from today, Friday October 21st, women in the country will effectively be working for free for the rest of 2016.

Swiss luxury watches stolen in Paris raid
Police outside the Girard-Perregaux watch store on Thursday. Photo: Bertrand Guay/AFP

The 10 Girard-Perregaux watches are worth half a million euros in total.

Brother-in-law arrested over murder of Swiss teacher
The victim worked in a school in Stabio, near the town of Mendrisio. Photo: Oliver Graf

The primary school teacher was found dead in Ticino earlier this week.

Inside Switzerland’s largest nuclear bunker – 40 years on
Designed to house 20,000 people, the bunker was built in and over two motorway tunnels. Photo: Unterirdisch Ueberleben

The Local takes a tour of the Sonnenberg bunker in Lucerne, opened 40 years ago at the height of the Cold War.

Ten Swiss ski resorts named most expensive in Europe
File photo: Renato Bagattini/Swiss Tourism

Skiers in Switzerland pay the highest prices for their ski passes of anywhere in Europe, according to research.

Eco group fights Bern over wind farm plans
There are currently more than 30 wind farms in Switzerland. Photo: Alpiq

Wind turbines are “gigantic and destructive” machines, says Paysage Libre Suisse.

Vegan wins battle to be accepted by Swiss army
Antoni Da Campo will now carry out his military service. Photo: Antoni Da Campo

A Swiss man who was told he would not be accepted for military service because of his strict veganism has finally succeeded in making the army change its mind.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Photo: Richard Juilliard/AFP
Man makes Geneva airport bomb threat ‘for a joke’
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Photo: AFP
Solar Impulse team reveals plans for unmanned plane
File photo: Martin Abegglen
Swiss to vote on passport rules for 3rd gen foreigners
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Photo: AFP
Swiss wingsuit hotspot Lauterbrunnen won’t impose ban
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Six reasons Switzerland isn’t as boring as you might think
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Report: Switzerland one of world’s best places for girls
Photo: The Local
Thief returns Swiss cow bells worth thousands
File photo: Wikimedia Commons
One in three rapists isn’t locked up: statistics
Photo: activistin.ch
Tampon-tax protest turns Zurich fountains red
Photo: AFP
Geneva police to lift ban on bearded officers
Photo: Marcel Gillieron/AFP
Suicide chef’s restaurant keeps Michelin stars
Photo: Lara de Salis
11 things the Swiss get tired of hearing abroad
Photo:  Ivo Scholz/Swiss-image.ch
Survey: expats in Switzerland have money but few friends
Photo: AFP
Swiss press criticize Bern’s 'capitulation' on immigration
Photo: Jura Trois Lacs tourism
German ex-policeman is Swiss city’s new hermit
Photo: Dmitry A. Mottl
Ticino votes to favour local workers over foreigners
Photo: file
Some deodorants could cause breast cancer: Swiss study
Photo: Royal Savoy
In pictures: Inside the latest Swiss luxury hotel
Photo: AFP
Geneva airport bomb hoaxer faces 90,000-franc bill
Photo: Schaffhausen police
Mother leaves toddler son alone in car to go clubbing
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Swiss populist attacked by knife-wielding pensioner
Photo: File
Bern argues over passports for 3rd generation foreigners
Photo: Broad Bean Media
Muslim pupils must shake hands – ‘no ifs and buts’
jobs available