Date
17 December 2017
The diamond district in Antwerp, where Belgian authorities allege some dealers received help from HSBC in evading tax. Photo: Bloomberg
The diamond district in Antwerp, where Belgian authorities allege some dealers received help from HSBC in evading tax. Photo: Bloomberg

HSBC charged with tax fraud, money laundering

Belgian authorities have charged HSBC’s private banking arm, based in Switzerland, with helping wealthy Belgians avoid taxes.

Prosecutors said the bank helped more than 1,000 clients, including diamond dealers in Antwerp, move money to offshore tax havens, BBC News reported Monday.

They said hundreds of millions of euros in tax revenue were lost.

The Belgian authorities accused HSBC of “having knowingly eased and promoted fiscal fraud by making offshore companies available to certain privileged clients”.

These companies, based in Panama and the Virgin Islands, exist for the sole purpose of tax evasion, they said.

Prosecutor Michel Claise accused HSBC of “fraud, money laundering, criminal association and illegal exercise of the profession of financial intermediary”, as the private bank is not licensed to provide financial services in Belgium.

HSBC said it had been notified of the investigation and of a similar probe by French authorities. It said it would “continue to cooperate to the fullest extent possible”.

In August, the bank warned that the penalties in relation to such allegations “could be significant”.

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