According to Sky News, the probe into tax affairs at HSBC’s Swiss private bank was concluded by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) several months ago, with the bank being notified of its decision at the time.
In an investigation carried out by BBC’s Panorama last year, the banking giant was reported to have helped rich clients dodge millions in UK taxation by hiding their assets in HSBC’s private arm in Switzerland.
Addressing the Treasury Select Committee following the revelations, former chief executive of the FCA Martin Wheatley said the regulator was ‘not aware’ of the allegations until they were published in the media.
Wheatley told MPs: “The allegations are about a Swiss unit of the bank, based on events of predominantly 2005-2007.
“We are very closely monitoring the ability of the bank overall … and we think significant improvements have been made.”
The news that the FCA has chosen not to take action on the matter comes shortly after it was revealed that it had decided to halt an industry-wide review of bank culture.
HSBC is currently evaluating whether to move its headquarters out of the UK, which it says is largely due to an increase in the bank levy as announced in the March Budget last year.
Reports in recent months have suggested that the US and Hong Kong are strong contenders for the new residency of HSBC’s head office.