February 28, 2018 / 7:17 AM / a year ago

Bank Hapoalim to set aside another $75 million over U.S. tax investigation

FILE PHOTO: A woman uses an automated teller machine (ATM) outside a Bank Hapoalim branch in Tel Aviv, Israel May 30, 2013. REUTERS/Nir Elias/File Photo

TEL AVIV (Reuters) - Bank Hapoalim (POLI.TA) will set aside an additional $75 million to cover a potential settlement in a U.S. investigation of possible tax evasion by the bank’s clients there, Israel’s largest bank said on Wednesday.

Hapoalim said it had determined that more of its clients may be relevant to the investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Its provisions for the investigation now stand at $343 million, Hapoalim said in a statement.

The bank estimates “that its overall exposure is higher than the amount of the provision it expects to include in its financial reports for 2017,” it said.

Hapoalim added that the latest amount to be set aside was not final and could change by the time it publishes its financial results on March 26.

Israel’s banking regulator in September ordered lenders to reduce their overseas operations and keep a closer eye on subsidiaries to better comply with risk and compliance rules.

The clamp-down came in response to the Hapoalim investigation and similar cases with lenders Leumi (LUMI.TA) and Mizrahi Tefahot (MZTF.TA).

Leumi paid $400 million in fines to U.S. authorities in late 2014.

Reporting by Tova Cohen; editing by Steven Scheer and Jason Neely

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