Belgium to reclaim €540m taxes from HSBC accounts

Belgian authorities have reportedly investigated about 1000 client accounts from HSBC’s Swiss branch.

Photo: <a href="">Chris Warham</a> / <a href=""></a>

The Belgian government is aiming to reclaim €540 million in unpaid taxes linked to funds held in secret HSBC private Swiss bank accounts, according to the country’s finance minister.

Belgian authorities have reportedly investigated about 1000 client accounts from HSBC’s Swiss branch. Finance minister Johan Van Overtveldt reported the estimated unpaid tax uncovered by the investigation on Tuesday.

ICIJ and its partners revealed details of tax evasion and wrongdoing through HSBC’s private Swiss bank in its Swiss Leaks investigation in February. The revelations were based on client data that was leaked from inside the bank to French authorities, and then shared with authorities around the world.

In addition to the investigation of individual clients, HSBC is also facing criminal charges in Belgium over allegations the bank’s Swiss branch facilitated tax fraud and money laundering.

In France, prosecutors have reportedly asked courts to uphold a €1 billion bail for the bank ahead of a criminal trial over similar allegations. The bail was originally set at this amount when the charges were brought against the bank, however HSBC appealed, and labeled the bail excessive.

Book cover, La ClefThe news comes as HSBC also looks towards a major shake-up of its global operations, which is expected to include up to 20,000 job cuts and could see the bank move its headquarters out of the United Kingdom.

Earlier this week the bank appointed two new non-executive directors to its board ahead of a shareholder strategy meeting later this month.

Meanwhile, in France, two investigative reporters from newspaper Le Monde on Wednesday released a new book detailing the Swiss Leaks investigation.

The book, La Clef by Gérard Davet and Fabrice Lhomme, follows the investigation from its genesis, through to working with ICIJ and its partners all around the world. 

Read more about the impact from ICIJ's investigations, and find out how you can support ICIJ's work

Email newsletter Find out first! Receive ICIJ's investigations by email


Behind the scenes of the Panama Papers story that brought down Iceland’s PM

Apr 13, 2021

Cyprus, Ghana and Kenya join growing list of countries to create beneficial ownership registries

Apr 13, 2021

Panama Papers revenue recovery reaches $1.36 billion as investigations continue

Apr 06, 2021

Five years later, Panama Papers still having a big impact

Apr 03, 2021
London Panama Papers protest

The fight against offshore crime will be a long campaign

Apr 03, 2021

From front pages to prison time: Behind the scenes of a Panama Papers criminal case

Apr 03, 2021
ICIJ is dedicated to ensuring all reports we publish are accurate. If you believe you have found an inaccuracy let us know.