HSBC faces UK probe over data leaks
London, November 10, 2012
HSBC, Europe's biggest bank, is at the centre 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.
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 co-operate fully with the authorities," the bank said yesterday.
HSBC said it was "fully committed to adoption of the highest global standards including the procedures for the acceptance of clients".
The leaked account data identified 4,388 British-based people holding £699 million ($1.1 billion) in current accounts, and also included celebrities, bankers, doctors, mining and oil executives and oil workers, according to The Daily Telegraph report. It also included about 4,000 account holders with addresses outside Britain.
HSBC's clients came under scrutiny from HMRC last year when the tax authority contacted up to 6,000 Swiss client account holders after getting their details following an exchange agreement with French authorities.-Reuters