World Economy

French Prosecutor Calls for HSBC Trial

French Prosecutor Calls for HSBC TrialFrench Prosecutor Calls for HSBC Trial

The French financial prosecutor’s office has demanded that HSBC’s Swiss private bank face a criminal trial for tax evasion.

The request follows an investigation by local magistrates into alleged tax fraud involving 3,000 French taxpayers, BBC reported.

“This is a normal step in the judicial procedure and the outcome of the matter is not determined as of today,” HSBC said in a statement.

Parent company HSBC also faces a separate, ongoing French investigation.

HSBC’s Swiss private bank has one month to respond, after which French magistrates will decide whether or not to hold a trial.

The French newspaper Le Monde reported that HSBC turned down a €1.5m ($1.6m) settlement offer.

  Global Investigations

HSBC faces 10 separate investigations around the world for allegations that it helped wealthy clients avoid paying millions in taxes to governments in the UK, the US, Argentina, France, and elsewhere.

The tax evasion came to light as a result of a whistleblower, Herve Falciani, who leaked documents regarding the scheme to the UK’s tax authority (HMRC) in 2010.

However, the allegations regarding tax evasion were not made public until February, when many international news organisations - including the BBC - published parts of the documents.

HSBC has since apologized for operations at the Swiss bank, and has said that it has reformed the way it conducts business.