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HSBC concludes record settlement with Brussels authorities

The headquarters of HSBC in London. Credit: Håkan Dahlström Photography

HSBC has concluded a record 294.4 million euro criminal settlement with the Office of the Public Prosecutor (OPP) of Brussels, the OPP announced on Tuesday, confirming a report in L’Echo.

The Swiss bank had been charged with tax fraud, money laundering and illegal exercise of an intermediary financial function.

The settlement agreement is the highest penal transaction ever concluded by the Belgian justice authorities. It is now scheduled to be validated by the Council Chamber of the Court of Brussels in September.

In October 2013, Brussels investigating judge Michel Claise had ordered a number of raids under an investigation ordered by the Brussels OPP into the operations of HSBC Private Bank SA, the Swiss branch of the British bank HSBC. The bank had been charged with tax fraud, money laundering, criminal organisation and illegal exercise of the function of financial intermediary.

HSBC is suspected of representing very wealthy clients in Belgium, mostly diamond merchants, and encouraging them having to avoid Belgian taxes by making offshore companies, mainly in Panama and the Virgin Islands, available to them.  

The Brussels Times