The UK’s HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is reviewing a list of HSBC’s British customers in the island of Jersey after receiving a list of names, addresses and account balances from a whistle-blower. The department wants to establish whether any of them used the offshore accounts for tax evasion purposes.
“We can confirm we have received the data and we are studying it,” HMRC said in a statement. “We receive information from a very wide range of sources which we use to ensure the tax rules are being respected.
“Clamping down on those who try to cheat the system through evading taxes and over-claiming benefits is a top priority for us and we value the information we receive from the public and business community.”
A report in the UK ‘s Daily Telegraph newspaper claims that the 4,388 UK-based customers collectively hold a total of £699m in the bank accounts, many of which were undisclosed to the tax authorities. According to the paper, the list includes criminals, former bankers, doctors, mining and oil workers, celebrities and other well-known figures.
“We are investigating the reports of an alleged loss of certain client data in Jersey as a matter of urgency,” a statement issued by HSBC read. “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 cooperate fully with the authorities.
“HSBC remains fully committed to adoption of the highest global standards including the procedures for the acceptance of clients.”
The bank is already facing a record penalty for lax controls in Mexico where US authorities are accusing it of laundering drug cartel money, which cost David Bagley, head of group compliance, his job in June after the US senate attacked the “pervasively polluted” culture at HSBC and endorsed a US$700m fine. The bank has since set aside a further US$800m in anticipation of further sanctions.
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