CORRECTED-HSH sets aside money for tax probe -source
(Modifies headline to drop word "evasion")
FRANKFURT Dec 16 (Reuters) - German public sector lender HSH Nordbank plans to set aside about 130 million euros ($179 million) in provisions against possible tax liabilities, following an internal probe into suspected tax avoidance by clients, a source familiar with the bank said on Monday.
In an internal probe conducted by law firm Clifford Chance some dubious tax deals had been found, the source told Reuters following a similar report by German newspaper Handelsblatt.
The probe regards possible tax liabilities in connection with share transactions in which HSH had timed certain proprietary trades close to dividend payments and claimed possibly unwarranted tax credits related to the transactions.
Several other German banks are also looking into their involvement in the tax rebate strategy dubbed "dividend stripping," where a stock is bought just before losing rights to a dividend then quickly sold.
An HSH spokesman declined to comment but pointed to an television interview in which Chief Financial Officer Stefan Ermisch said last month: "We are very transparent about this (internal probe) towards our board and towards the fiscal authorities."
Clifford Chance was not immediately available for comment. ($1=0.7271 euros) (Reporting by Andreas Kröner and Arno Schuetze; Editing by Greg Mahlich)
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