So, I don’t say that on the blog very often (though my brothers would likely tell a different story from our years at home). But I’m sooo saying it now.
When the IRS won its prominent battle with UBS, I said (as did many tax and finance bloggers) that a win would only lead to more investigations. In terms of timing, the end of the Voluntary Disclosure Program last year was kind of a line in the sand. I predicted more vigorous prosecutions would follow.
Cut to today. Sure enough, another high profile tax evasion case has been announced. The US Department of Justice has launched a criminal investigation into whether clients of the international bank, HSBC, have violated banking secrecy laws. Notifications letters received by those clients are said to resemble those sent to UBS clients.
For its part, HSBC is declining comment. However, the bank has made it known that it does not assist clients in the commission of a crime. In contrast, UBS has admitted wrongdoing for assisting its clients in hiding assets from the IRS; as penance, the bank paid a hefty fine and agreed to turn over the account information for a number of its clients.
HSBC is headquartered in the UK. The UK was at the forefront of criticisms of Switzerland’s UBS and the Swiss banking secrecy laws. This could get interesting…
Last Updated on