HSBC to Pay $352 Million to Resolve French Probe

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Geneva-based HSBC Private Bank said it will pay 300 million euros to French authorities to put aside allegations that it lured wealthy French tax dodgers with offshore accounts to hide their funds.

The bank said it was pleased to resolve the long-running investigation into tax dodging by French citizens via its private bank in Switzerland.

By signing Judicial Public Interest Agreement (CJIP), "the bank recognizes the existence of the facts against it and accepts their legal definition", it said.

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According to a statement from the French prosecutors office Tuesday, more than EUR1.6 billion worth of client assets were shielded from French taxes. The bank says it has since taken measures to prevent tax fraud. A former HSBC employee gave the data to French authorities in 2008. It has provisioned fully for the amount.

Prior to HSBC, the swiss bank UBS, continued in France for a similar offence, had begun informal negotiations with the prosecution of the national financial to also study the possibility of setting up a CJIP.

HSBC has admitted that the private Swiss bank made mistakes.