HSBC under probe for abetting tax evasion


Indian tax department had issued a warning notice to global banking massive HSBC to prosecute its Swiss and Dubai offices for allegedly abetting tax avoidance by four Indians and their families.

The tax authorities continuing the investigation on UK-based HSBC which was disclosed on Monday, regarding alleged abetment of tax evasion through its Geneva branch. HSBC said that it is cooperating with the authorities and hoped a ‘’significant’’ financial impact as a result of these investigations.

According to tax authorities, they have sufficient evidence against HSBC involvement in illegal activities. HSBC  had been scanned under Reserve Bank of India also which revealed the dissonance in the banking operations, including allowing a decoy customer to open a  suspicious account in September 2014.

HSBC was examined by Indian tax authorities after the leaked list of hundreds of Indian clients of its Geneva branch from French and German.

This will help Indian government to fight against black money which is allegedly stashed in Switzerland, there have been apprehensions that the illegal money has been shifted to some other place like Dubai in recent years. Similar lists made in other countries also, prompting probe.

HSBC said that it had first issued its summons in February 2015 from tax authorities while fresh notices were issued in August and then in November during the announcement of annual results, without disclosing the names of Indians who were involved in the tax evasion through its Swiss and Dubai units.

The bank on Monday reported a revenue of $1.84 billion in 2015, up from $1.74 in 2014 from Indian operations. However, it has a profit of $606 from India operations, including from global banking and market business. For India, its customer account had the balance of $11.8 billion at the end of 2015, up from $11.7 billion in 2014.

Meanwhile, the RBI report alleges that HSBC could have possibly optimized the violation of Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA) by allowing customers to bank with offshore private banking locations.

A sample check of HSBC’s outward remittances has found that bank has breached the limits under the Liberalised Remittance Scheme, which allow Indians to open accounts abroad, reported RBI. It also reported on alleged deficiencies in KYC procedures.

The UK-based bank has been under the scanner of financial sector regulators in many countries. In December 2012, the US authorities had slapped a fine of $1.9 billion on the lender for breaking US anti-money laundering rules. (Inputs from agencies)