HSBC to pay €300m to avoid French tax fraud trial

French financial prosecutors say the Swiss-based HSBC Private Bank has agreed to pay 300 million euros ($352 million) to France to close a tax fraud case, a first in the country.

The scandal goes back to 2009, when banker-turned-whistleblower Hervé Falciani handed over reams of bank documents on alleged French tax cheats to prosecutors in France.

"HSBC has publicly acknowledged historical control weaknesses at the Swiss Private Bank on a number of occasions and has taken firm steps to address them", it said.

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Investigations by the French government revealed that many French taxpayers had hidden their assets with help from HSBC's private bank. These 300 million euros, already fully provisioned by the bank, will abound, the budget of the French State.

The settlement was the first in France under a new law passed past year modeled on USA deferred prosecution agreements. "The parent company UBS AG has finally been returned to the criminal court in march for money-laundering, aggravated fraud tax" and its French subsidiary for "aiding and abetting".

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