The homes of twenty people holding Swiss accounts with HSBC’s private bank were raided today as part of a major investigation into the UK lender’s role in helping wealthy people hide their money from tax authorities. The raids took place in Belgium and Antwerp and were for the purpose of gathering information to strengthen the case against HSBC.
In December last year, HSBC paid $2 Billion in fines to the US authorities after the Department of Justice said that over $881 in drug trafficking money from Mexican and Columbian drug cartels had been laundered through the bank’s US operations.
HSBC’s private banking arm has been accused of creating offshore accounts for Belgian residents trying to avoid paying taxes on savings they held in Switzerland.
An international tax agreement between EU and Switzerland says that EU members have a right to tax the interest on Swiss accounts held by their nationals.
Presently, other Swiss banks are being probed by the Department of Justice in their roles in assisting Americans in secreting moneys abroad to evade U.S. taxes. It is not clear when or whether those probes will result in sanctions.
Jeffrey Newman represents whistleblowers.