Business World

Saturday 3 December 2016

Swiss to share HSBC customer data with US authorities

John Miller

Published 27/07/2016 | 02:30

The Swiss government said it made the announcement about its plans yesterday to alert HSBC account holders whom it has been unable to locate. Photo: PA
The Swiss government said it made the announcement about its plans yesterday to alert HSBC account holders whom it has been unable to locate. Photo: PA

Switzerland said it plans to give information to US tax authorities about accounts at HSBC Holdings' Swiss private bank, as part of a US investigation into tax evasion.

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HSBC's Swiss unit has already paid tens of millions of dollars in fines after admitting substandard compliance on tax evasion and other issues.

The Swiss government said it made the announcement about its plans yesterday to alert HSBC account holders whom it has been unable to locate, and to give them the chance to lodge a legal appeal if they object to having their information sent to the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

The move comes after the IRS asked Swiss tax authorities in April for assistance on HSBC Private Bank (Suisse) accounts held by Swiss-registered "domiciliary companies" with US beneficial owners between 2002 and 2014. The Swiss Federal Tax Administration said the IRS targeted HSBC accounts "where there is evidence that the US beneficial owner exercised control, directly or indirectly, over the account in violation of corporate governance... by withdrawing funds from the account for personal use."

HSBC said it was cooperating.

"Following an information request in April 2016 from US authorities to the Swiss Federal Tax Administration (SFTA), the bank has provided certain files, mostly related to former clients, to the SFTA," said Lonnie Frisby, a spokesman for HSBC's Swiss private bank. "The Swiss authorities may forward part or all of this information to US authorities in accordance with applicable laws and treaties. Anyone subject to this request has been notified." The US is also investigating whether the Swiss unit helped wealthy US citizens evade taxes. (Reuters)

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