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French probe turns up heat on HSBC

Friday, April 10, 2015 - 02:02

French authorities have charged HSBC over allegations relating to past tax dealings, while Deutsche Bank is set to face the music over Libor manipulation. Ciara Lee asks how damaging these scandals are for the banks and their reputations.

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A criminal tax probe and a one billion euro bail imposed on HSBC. France is investigating what the bank knew about some of its clients' tax affairs between 2006 and 2007. Thousands of accounts at the world's second biggest bank reportedly show the lender's Swiss private banking arm offered deals to help tax dodgers stay one step ahead of the law. The documents were downloaded by the bank's former employee, computer expert Herve Falciani in 2007. Magistrates reportedly estimate the bank's fraud to be worth two billion euros, a figure contested by HSBC. Dominc Elliott is from Reuters Breakingviews. (SOUNDBITE) REUTERS BREAKINGVIEWS COLUMNIST, DOMINIC ELLIOTT, SAYING: "I think the problem that HSBC and other banks face is the reminders the public get whenever the story is re-heated are unpleasant and not relished." HSBC is not the only bank under pressure this week - Deutsche Bank is also back in the spotlight. It faces allegations that it tried to rig the Libor benchmark interest rate and could reportedly settle with the U.S. and UK authorities this month. Penalties could exceed a billion pounds - the same amount UBS Group paid in 2012. (SOUNDBITE) REUTERS BREAKINGVIEWS COLUMNIST, DOMINIC ELLIOTT, SAYING: "Deutsche Bank according to Reuters may have to plead guilty via its UK subsidiary. Now that could be something that hurts it. It may make it harder for it to raise capital in the UK in future. It may make trading with counterparties more difficult." Germany's largest lender could be among the last of the banks to settle with the authorities over the Libor manipulation scandal. Deutsche Bank says it continues to work with authorities. And there could be more trouble ahead. Deutsche Bank, which is the world's second-largest foreign exchange trader, is also under investigation by U.S. authorities over possible manipulation of emerging markets currency rates.

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French probe turns up heat on HSBC

Friday, April 10, 2015 - 02:02