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Politicians, regulators face questions over HSBC cases

HSBC bank.

The political row over the Swiss Leaks revelations is building in a number of countries, as HSBC faces committee investigations in the United Kingdom, and politicians in the United States weigh the nomination of a potential attorney general who previously investigated the bank.

And the fallout continues in jurisdictions around the world, as governments respond to allegations the bank and some of its clients were potentially involved in tax evasion and alleged wrongdoing.

Among the latest reactions to the Swiss Leaks revelations:

  • UNITED KINGDOM: The Treasury Select Committee will hold a hearing on both the dealings of HSBC’s Swiss branch and into HMRC’s own response to the HSBC allegations in the four years since it first acquired the leaked information from French authorities. HSBC Chairman Douglas Flint and HMRC Chief Executive Lin Homer are expected to face the committee within the next two weeks. Public Accounts Committee chairwoman Margaret Hodge also promised an investigation earlier in the week, and has since sharply criticized HMRC’s handling of the affair.  HMRC reportedly plans to meet with Britain’s Serious Fraud Office and the police to expand the investigation. And debate on the floor of the House of Commons continues to feature barbs traded across the floor over the Conservative party’s alleged ties with the bank – including through donors, and by the appointment of former HSBC boss Stephen Green as trade minister.
  • UNITED STATES: Loretta Lynch’s nomination for attorney general has been delayed, with one senator citing concerns about her handling of the US case against HSBC on charges of money laundering in 2012.
  • VENEZUELA:  Congressman Andrés Velasquez who is part of the Comptroller Commission (Comisión de Contraloría) told ICIJ partner in Venezuela Armando.info that he will ask the National Assembly (Venezuelan Congress) to start an investigation of the Venezuelan accounts from the Treasury Office and Banco del Tesoro at HSBC to find out what happened with the money that was there until 2007.
  • OTHER INVESTIGATIONS: Prosecutors and officials in Macedonia, Namibia, Ghana, and El Salvador have all announced pending investigations, while a Zimbabwean official told ICIJ partner VOA that authorities were looking into the issue

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