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

HSBC Holdings PLC (LON:HSBA) will pay €300mln to settle an investigation by French authorities into tax evasion by clients of its Swiss bank.

By signing Judicial Public Interest Agreement (CJIP), "the bank recognizes the existence of the facts against it and accepts their legal definition", it said.

"HSBC is pleased to resolve this legacy investigation which relates to conduct that took place many years ago", the bank said in a statement.

France's financial prosecutor said the settlement was connected to wrongdoing by the bank's Swiss unit, which helped French clients hide over €1.6 billion ($1.9 billion) of assets.

The fine had been fully provisioned, the lender added.

HSBC Private Bank had been indicted on November 18, 2014, for "selling, banking and financial illegal" and "money laundering aggravated tax fraud".

Two of its former leaders are, for their part, are criminally prosecuted.

The settlement is the first sign of a thaw by French prosecutors pursuing Swiss banks, including UBS, which is also involved in a years-long investigation for similar allegations.

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