(MENAFN - Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)) Britain's biggest bank is at the centre of a major HM Revenue and Customs investigation after it opened offshore accounts in Jersey for serious criminals living in the UK, The Telegraph newspaper revealed here Friday.
The tax authorities have obtained details of every British client of HSBC in Jersey after a whistleblower secretly provided a detailed list of names, addresses and account balances earlier this week.
The newspaper reported that among those identified on the list are Daniel Bayes, a drug dealer who is now in Venezuela; Michael Lee, who was convicted of possessing more than 300 weapons at his house in Devon; three bankers facing major fraud allegations and a man once dubbed London's "number two computer crook".
A series of other accounts containing six-figure deposits are also registered to modest addresses in relatively poor parts of the UK.
The disclosures raise serious questions about HSBC's procedures in Jersey, with the bank already preparing to pay fines of around 1.5 billion Dollars in America for breaking money laundering rules.
The bank is legally obliged to report to the authorities any suspicions about the source of money deposited in its accounts. HM Revenue and Customs is now understood to be trawling through a list of the names and addresses of more than 4 thousand people based in Britain who had bank accounts at HSBC in Jersey.
This work is expected to lead to the identification of hundreds of people who are evading tax as the accounts have not been previously disclosed. A spokesman for HMRC told the newspaper :"We can confirm we have received the data and we are studying it.
We receive information from a very wide range of sources which we use to ensure the tax rules are being respected. "Clamping down on those who try to cheat the system through evading taxes and over claiming benefits is a top priority for us and we value the information we receive from the public and business community.
" The Telegraph said that it has established from public records that HSBC has opened bank accounts in Jersey for several people who are wanted by the police or have serious criminal convictions.
The information obtained by HMRC is thought to be the biggest data leak identifying holders of offshore accounts ever obtained by the British tax authorities.
The list identifies 4,388 people holding 699 million pounds in offshore current accounts and they are also likely to have billions of pounds more in investment schemes. Several celebrities and other well-known figures are understood to be identified in the client data.