The Department of Justice is considering filing criminal charges against HSBC as part of its investigation into whether the bank’s Swiss subsidiary assisted clients in evading taxes.
According to The Guardian, the department’s investigation could potentially result in criminal indictments against the bank and its clients.
“That has not been ruled out,” one Department of Justice official said. “It is certainly something that is under consideration.”
Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren wholeheartedly supported charges against the bank if any wrongdoing is proven to have taken place.
“The government comes down hard on individuals who break the law time after time, and it should do the same for large financial institutions,” Warren said in a statement. “The new allegations that HSBC colluded to help wealthy people and rich corporations hide money and avoid taxes are very serious, and, if true, the Department of Justice should reconsider the earlier deferred prosecution agreement it entered into with HSBC and prosecute the new violations to the full extent of the law.”
HSBC has been the subject of investigations prior to the current Department of Justice inquiry, and is no stranger to scandal. The bank has even admitted that its Geneva subsidiary engaged in tax evasion related wrongdoing, though they assured that steps had been taken to scale back on cases of tax evasion by its subsidiaries. “We acknowledge and are accountable for past compliance and control failures,” the bank said in a statement.
Warren addressed a 2012 HSBC scandal in a now-infamous speech at a Senate banking committee meeting following a multi-billion-dollar settlement with the bank over allegations of sanction breaches and money laundering.
“How many billions of dollars do you have to launder for drug lords," Warren stated, "and how many economic sanctions do you have to violate before someone will consider shutting down a financial institution like this?”
Sources: The Guardian / Photo Credit: Starr FM Online, WikiCommons