Tax authorities in India and other countries are probing HSBC Bank, including its Swiss and Dubai offices, for allegedly abetting tax evasion by four Indians and their families, the multinational lender has disclosed.
"Various tax administrations, regulatory and law enforcement authorities around the world, including in the US, France, Belgium, Argentina and India, are conducting investigations and reviews of HSBC Swiss Private Bank and other HSBC companies in connection with allegations of tax evasion or tax fraud, money laundering and unlawful cross-border banking solicitation," HSBC said in its latest annual report released earlier this week.
In August 2015 and November 2015, HSBC companies received notices issued by two offices of the Indian tax authority alleging that it had sufficient evidence to initiate prosecution against HSBC Swiss Private Bank and an HSBC company in Dubai for allegedly abetting tax evasion of four different Indian individuals and/or families and requesting that the HSBC companies show why such prosecution should not be initiated, it said, adding both have responded to the show-cause notices.
The bank also said it has set aside $773 million as provision to deal with various tax and money laundering-related issues.
"There are many factors that may affect the range of outcomes, and the resulting financial impact of these investigations and reviews. Due to uncertainties and limitations of these estimates, the ultimate penalties could differ significantly from the amount provided," HSBC said.
India's Income Tax department has earlier said it has filed well over 100 cases of prosecution against those entities whose names appeared in the HSBC Geneva bank list.
The move came after the Indian Supreme Court in 2014 gave a list of 628 entities in the bank branch, that was furnished to it in a sealed envelope by the central government, to the Special Investigation Team (SIT) constituted in May 2014.
HSBC also reported that it has been approached by the regulatory and law enforcement agencies of various countries for information on persons and entities, including hundreds of Indians, named in the leaked Panama Papers about alleged tax violations committed through offshore tax havens.
(With IANS inputs)