10 February 2015

Tax investigation of HSBC's Swiss arm raises risk of HMRC and SFO prosecutions

Accounts at HSBC’s Swiss banking operation may have been used to evade the payment of UK tax, it has been reported. Data on the accounts was handed to the French authorities by a member of HSBC’s IT team in 2007, and has been closely examined by tax authorities across Europe. The UK related data was forwarded to the UK in 2010.

Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) requested detailed information about UK taxpayers but, prior to the negotiation of the Swiss-UK tax information exchange agreement in January 2013, was unable to get sufficient information to conduct a full criminal investigation and pursue prosecutions. With the advent of the Swiss agreement, and the information available from the leaked files, it is now likely that HMRC and the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) will look at whether they can bring prosecutions on the grounds of conspiracy to cheat the Revenue, conspiracy to launder money and conspiracy to defraud.

Withers tax investigations, litigation and criminal specialists work together to assist individuals and companies at every stage of an investigation, from initial enquiry from HMRC or the SFO onwards.

If you have any queries you would like to discuss please contact one of the members of our investigations team.


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