HSBC scandal: MPs launch inquiry following claims that the bank helped clients dodge tax

 
Sarah Spickernell
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Documents were leaked by a whistleblower in 2007 (Source: Getty)
The Public Accounts Committee is launching an investigation following claims that HSBC helped wealthy clients "evade" tax.
The committee, which was set up to oversee government expenditures, will require HSBC to give evidence to a panel of MPs.
Margaret Hodge, chair of the committee, said during a speech at the House of Commons this afternoon that the launch was “urgent”.
"The Public Accounts Committee will be launching an urgent inquiry to which we will require HSBC to give evidence - and we will order them if necessary,” she said.
Yesterday, it was revealed that HSBC’s Swiss private banking arm helped wealthy customers evade millions of pounds in tax. Documents released by a whistleblower who worked for the bank in Geneva at the time were shared with French newspaper Le Monde, and subsequently with 50 other media outlets.
However, HSBC quickly released a statement saying the while it had made mistakes in the past, the bank had “fundamentally changed”.
"We acknowledge that the compliance culture and standards of due diligence in HSBC's Swiss private bank, as well as the industry in general, were significantly lower than they are today," it said.

Hodge blames HMRC

Earlier today, Hodge publicly blamed HMRC for not acting quickly enough to punish known culprits..
“You are left wondering, as you see the enormity of what has been going on, what it actually takes to bring a tax cheat to court. If it had been a benefit cheat it would have been up for court years ago.”
Yesterday, HMRC said it had already acted on the list of tax evaders given to them in 2010, and that more than £135m had already been paid in tax, interest and penalties as a result.

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