An international bank is in hot water after it admitted it helped hundreds of Americans hide over $1 billion in assets from the IRS. HSBC Holdings admitted to helping after a decade-long investigation. The investigation ended when prosecutors filed a charge of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. against a unit of the bank. Prosecutors agreed to drop the charge in three years if the bank abides by the deal. HSBC has agreed to pay $192.4 million in order to resolve the issue.
According to the charge, HSBC Switzerland assisted U.S. taxpayers in concealing their offshore assets and income from U.S. tax authorities from 2000 to 2010. In a statement of facts, HSBC Switzerland admitted that it helped 720 U.S. taxpayers hide $825 million in assets from the IRS. The bank also offered a variety of traditional Swiss banking services that help clients cheat the IRS. This included advising their clients to withdraw less than $10,000 so they could avoid reporting requirements and they provided credit, debit and travel cards to access funds.
This is not the first time HSBC has gotten in trouble for helping taxpayers avoid taxes. In 2017, the Swiss bank had to pay 300 million euros to settle an investigation on tax evasion by French citizens. This came after an ex-employee leaked client data that spawned investigations in several countries.