HSBC has paid €300m (£268m, US$354m) to settle a criminal investigation by French tax authorities into allegations that the bank’s Swiss subsidiary colluded with clients to help them evade tax, the bank has disclosed.
The alleged misconduct is said to have taken place in 2006 and 2007, and the bank characterised the inquiry as a “legacy investigation”.
While the bank accepted that their had been “control weaknesses” in the past as the Swiss private bank that is its subsidiary, it had improved its anti-money laundering and tax compliance procedures, it said in a statement.
French tax authorities said that HSBC had helped its clients conceal assets that they held in the Swiss subsidiary from them, the bank confirmed.
The mutually agree settlement is made up of a penalty of €158m (£141m, US$186m), with damages and interest of about €142m (£127m, US$167m), a judge at a court hearing in Paris said.
“HSBC is pleased to resolve this legacy investigation which relates to conduct that took place many years ago,” the bank said.
“HSBC has publicly acknowledged historical control weaknesses at the Swiss Private Bank on a number of occasions and has taken firm steps to address them.”