HSBC to pay €300m to avoid French tax fraud trial

HSBC to pay €300m to avoid French tax fraud trial

HSBC Private Bank, Swiss unit of British banking giant HSBC, has accepted to pay 300 million euros (352.83 million US dollars) to avoid going to trial over tax fraud charges, French Financial prosecutor said on Tuesday. The agreement marks the end of the French investigation against HSBC Switzerland.

Earlier on Tuesday, HSBC said it would make the payment to settle the long-running probe into tax dodging by French citizens via its private bank in Switzerland. Investigators believe that HSBC's private banking division offered its customers several ways of hiding assets from the French taxman, notably via the use of offshore tax havens.

The bank acknowledged past weaknesses in controls at the Swiss private bank unit and said it had enhanced its anti-money laundering and tax compliance procedures, according to an emailed statement.

HSBC was initially ordered by a French court to post a €1bn bail in 2015 to cover a potential penalty.

The banking giant added that it was pleased to resolve "this legacy investigation which relates to conduct that took place many years ago".

This allows companies under suspicion of corruption or dissimulation of tax fraud to negotiate a fine to stop a case from going to trial.

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