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HSBC helps around 6,000 rich French lawyers, clients dodge €5.8b taxes

HSBC helps around 6,000 rich French lawyers, clients dodge €5.8b taxes

PARIS: HSBC helped around 6,000 rich French lawyers, artists, businessmen and even a World Cup winner dodge taxes, new explosive reports claim. HSBC’s private bank has already been charged in France in connection to a major tax fraud probe.

French newspaper Le Monde revealed on Monday “breathtaking” figures of giant global tax evasion scheme involving up to €180 billion deposited by 100,000 wealthy individuals around the world.

The paper alleges the scheme “was conducted with the knowledge, and indeed the encouragement, of the world’s second largest bank, HSBC, via its Swiss subsidiary, HSBC Private Bank.”

The bank had already been placed under formal investigation in France accused of “money laundering the proceeds of tax evasion” after former banker Hervé Falciani made previous leaks to tax authorities in 2008.

But the latest revelations from Le Monde on Monday show the scale of the bank’s operation, with thousands of clients from around the world, from celebrities to arms dealers and drug taffickers all on the list.

Le Monde, which was given a USB key containing the files by an anonymous source said the revelations “will shake the international financial industry to the core”.

The holders of the accounts are striking in their variety, Le Monde writes. “French surgeons wishing to launder undeclared fees rub shoulders with… Belgian diamond traders and Al-Qaeda funders.”