HSBC investigates claims of criminal account holders

// News | General | HSBC investigates claims of criminal account holders
Email to a friend Plain text Print version // Font size: Decrease font Enlarge font

HSBC bank says it is looking into allegations that criminals have used offshore accounts at its Jersey operation for money laundering.

The bank issued a statement after the Daily Telegraph newspaper said it was at the centre of a major investigation by HM Revenue and Customs .

HSBC said it was investigating “an alleged loss of certain client data in Jersey as a matter of urgency”.

HMRC said it had “received the data and we are studying it”.

“We receive information from a very wide range of sources which we use to ensure the tax rules are being respected,” the tax authority said.

In a statement, HSBC said, “Clamping down on those who try to cheat the system through evading taxes and over-claiming benefits is a top priority for us, and we value the information we receive from the public and business community.”

Owning an offshore bank account is not illegal. But it is illegal to hide the interest which has accrued on the sums held, and to avoid paying tax on that interest to HMRC.

Geoff Cook, of the trade organisation Jersey Finance, said, “This is a serious matter and we note HSBC’s immediate commitment to co-operating with any investigations carried out by the relevant authorities and welcome the clear position taken by the Jersey Financial Services Commission, that any failure to adhere to Jersey’s clear standards will be robustly investigated and acted upon.”

According to the Daily Telegraph, the tax authorities have obtained details of “every British client of HSBC in Jersey” based on information provided by a whistle-blower .

“These cases will be very complex, difficult and ultimately time consuming to unravel”

It is reported that the 4,000 offshore account holders include a well-known drug dealer living in Central America, bankers who face allegations of fraud and a man once dubbed London’s “number two crook”.

BBC business editor Robert Peston said, “It is really quite difficult to tell from this disclosure whether or not this is an example of HSBC yet again having, shall we say, laxer or weaker controls over who it takes money from.”

“The American authorities do think HSBC was, for too many years, too prone, or in a sense, too easily duped by terrorists and criminals who wanted to launder money. We just don’t have enough information whether or not this is an another example of those weak controls.”

Our business editor said he had been told by HSBC that this appeared to be a case of “whistle-blowers handing over bunches of bank names for whatever reasons”.

He added, “They don’t think they will emerge from this investigation to be shown to be particularly lax in their controls.”

Earlier this year, a US Senate report alleged that staff at HSBC’s global operations had laundered billions of dollars for drug cartels and terrorists in a “pervasively polluted” culture that persisted for years.

The report detailed how HSBC’s subsidiaries cleared suspicious travellers’ cheques worth billions, and allowed Mexican drug lords to buy planes with money laundered through Cayman Islands accounts

David Bagley, HSBC’s head of compliance since 2002, resigned from his post when he appeared before the US Senate committee in July.

In theory, HMRC should know about most of the HSBC accounts already.

In 2006, it established a crucial legal breakthrough which meant, for the first time, that it could demand that banks reveal the identities of UK taxpayers who hold accounts offshore.

Since then, the Revenue has been sending demands to hundreds of UK and foreign banks, asking them to do just that.

This has already brought in several hundred million pounds in taxes, interest and penalties, from people who confessed that they had been hiding money abroad.

HMRC has received the latest list of HSBC accounts from the whistle-blower only very recently.

But even if it has come with names and addresses attached, it will not necessarily be an easy matter to identify the people who own the accounts.

Ronnie Ludwig, a tax partner at the accountants Saffery Champness, said some accounts were likely to be in the names of nominee companies and trusts, which hide the identity of the beneficial owner.

Some accounts could also have a trigger clause, he explained, which means the money is moved swiftly to accounts in other offshore tax havens, such as the British Virgin Islands or the Cayman Island, if HMRC intensifies its scrutiny.

 Ludwig told the BBC that even with an accurate list in its possession, HMRC would still have quite a task on its hands to sort through each account.

“HMRC is facing an uphill struggle in terms of its resources, because these cases will be very complex, difficult and ultimately time-consuming to unravel,” he said.

Tagged : No tags for this article

Headlines Newsview all

Buhari's NTA Exclusive Interview On Good Morning Nigeria (Full Interview)

Yesterday, President Muhammadu Buhari, was a guest at the breakfast show “Good Morning Nigeria” on the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA). He evaluated his performance in ... Full story

Fraudsters Arrested With Fake 100 American US Dollars In Bauchi (Photo)

A 3-man 419 syndicate specializing in the usage of both local and international currencies have been arrested by the police in Bauchi state.  Following the arrest ... Full story

Toke Should Take Back Maje Ayida, Watch 'The Gist' With Toyosi Phillips (Video)

Toyosi Phillips is back with ‘The Gist’! This week she tells us why Toke Makinwa should take Maje Ayida back. She also shares how Basketmouth ... Full story

Soldier, 9 Others Paraded For Robbery, Kidnapping In Port Harcourt

An Army private, Elijah Owoh, who absconded from his duty post in Biu, Borno state was among the ten suspects arrested and paraded by Rivers ... Full story

Gaddafi Son Sentenced To Death Over War Crimes

A court in Libya has sentenced Col Muammar Gaddafi's son, Saif al-Islam, and eight others to death over war crimes linked to the 2011 revolution. More ... Full story

Teenager Arrested For Allegedly Murdering 4 Year Old Boy (Graphic Image)

A 16-year-old boy, Tajudeen Azeez, has been arrested by the Lagos state police command for allegedly killing a four-year-old boy in Ijaniki area of the ...

Thugs Beat Nigerian Pastor To Stupor For Preaching ‘Too Much’ In South Africa

A Nigerian pastor, Zander Emenogo, 48, has been preaching the word of God on the streets of South Africa for 10 years. But he never ... Full story

List Of Africa’s 30 Highest Paid Presidents And Their Salaries

When President Muhammadu Buhari recently announced that he and his deputy would take a pay cut, it was not entirely surprising for a man known ... Full story

Diezani Allison-Madueke Critically Ill In London Hospital

Some family members of the immediate past minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Allison-Madueke have appealed to Nigerians, especially her critics to let her be. Mrs ... Full story

Nigerian Army Brings Boko Haram To Its Knees In Dikwa-Maiduguri

The Chief of Army Staff, Major General Tukur Yusuf Buratai, recently ordered the Nigerian soldiers to take the war to Boko Haram terrorists in their ... Full story

Dead Woman Withdraws Money From Her Bank Account Four Years After Her Death

4 years after her death, she 'visited' her bank and withdrew more than N527,500 from her savings account in a first generation bank.  Mrs Cordelia Iweg­buna ... Full story

Comment on: HSBC investigates claims of criminal account holders

Rate this article

0

Breaking News

I Hardly Have Time To Enjoy Luxuries Of Life - Wizkid

Multiple award-winning singer, Wizkid, has stated that he used to dream of having luxuries of life while growing up. He however disclosed that now that ...

Fear And Panic Grips Bad Bank Debtors As CBN Deadline Approaches

Many bank debtors are jittery as the August 1 deadline set by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for them to pay back their loans, ...

Sergio Romero Signs For Manchester United

New Manchester United goalkeeper Sergio Romero has said he came to Old Trafford to help his old boss Louis van Gaal win silverware. The Red Devils ... Full story

Stephen Keshi Demands $5m Compensation From NFF

Former Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi has demanded US$5m (£3.2m) compensation from the Nigeria Football Federation following his dismissal from the job. Keshi was sacked at the ... Full story

Gospel Artistes Don't Charge Churches - Esther Igbekele

With the various debates coming from some quarters that gospel artistes should not demand for money from churches after performing, some will be left laughing ...

World Bank Appoints Arunma Oteh As VP And Treasurer

World Bank has announced the appointment of Ms. Arunma Oteh as the vice president and treasurer of the World Bank. According to a report by Global ... Full story

If Your Wife Can't Help You To Focus, Then Something Is Wrong - Sunny Nneji

Singer, Sunny Nneji, is not a new name in the industry after his hit song; ‘Oruka’ gained the attention of many Nigerians thereby creating high ...

I Hope To Work With The Younger Artistes - Paul Play Dairo

Popular Nigerian singer, Paul Play Dairo, who is known for bringing out great RnB hits in the late 90s and early 2000, is back to ...

Mavins Boss Don Jazzy, Awards Does Not Justifies An Artist

Wave making producer, Don Jazzy, has called on artistes and other professionals not to depend on awards before they put in their best in whatever ...

My First Money In Music Was Not Up To Half A Million - Tope Alabi

Some Nigerian entertainers now form the habit of pretending to be living large when actually they have just limited resources to pull themselves through but ...