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HSBC being probed by Indian tax department, worried over penalties


London, Feb 23:

HSBC bank is being probed by tax administration, regulatory and law enforcement authorities around the world, including India, and Europe’s largest lender is concerned about the amounts of penalties that could be imposed on it for its alleged money-laundering activities, the bank said in its annual report Monday.

HSBCHSBC listed investigations into the bank’s Geneva branch affair, saying that India, Belgium, France, Argentina and Switzerland were among the countries which have initiated inquiries into the alleged irregularities by the bank’s Swiss arm.

It warned that more could follow and that there “is a high degree of uncertainty as to the terms on which they will be resolved and the timing of such resolutions, including the amounts of fines, penalties and/or forfeitures imposed on HSBC, which could be significant”.

“In light of the recent media attention regarding these matters, it is possible that other tax administration, regulatory or law enforcement authorities will also initiate or enlarge similar investigations or regulatory proceedings,” the bank said.

The bank reported profit before tax in 2014 at $18.7 billion, which was $3.9 billion lower than in the previous year. “This reflected lower gains from disposals and reclassifications, and the negative effect of other significant items, including fines, settlements, UK customer redress and associated provisions, totalling $3.7 bn,” it said.

“We deeply regret and apologise for the conduct and compliance failures highlighted which were in contravention of our own policies as well as expectations of us,” said D.J. Flint, the bank’s group chairman. IANS