HSBC has told thousands of UK customers that their Jersey accounts are going to be closed.
The bank has labelled the move a “remediation exercise” and are telling customers that they must prove their identity and addresses as part of a crackdown on tax avoidance.
UK customers with Jersey accounts are receiving letters telling them that they have to attend their branch with their passport and address details, or their Jersey accounts will be closed.
The move by HSBC – which is the Britain’s largest bank – comes two-and-a-half years after a whistleblower provided the UK tax authorities with a list of every British client with a Jersey account, complete with their names, addresses and balances.
The incident raised headlines around the world, particularly over the inclusion on the list of a drug dealer, three bankers facing allegations of fraud and a notorious computer hacker.
Today’s news comes as Jersey’s financial services regulator – the Jersey Financial Services Commission – is considering a 12,000 page report into alleged money laundering breaches that have been the subject of a US Senate investigation into HSBC Middle East in Jersey.
Chief Minister Ian Gorst confirmed last month that the dossier – the result of two years of work – was handed to the Jersey Financial Services Commission on 19 December.
In answer to a question in the States, Senator Gorst said that the report is being considered in detail and that HSBC Middle East has co-operated with the two-year review.
In his response, he wrote: “I am informed by the Jersey Financial Services Commission that the scale of the two year review undertaken by the reporting professional has been significant and resulted in the delivery to the Commission on the 19 December 2014 of a 12,000-page report which is being reviewed and considered in detail.
“Clarification of points made in the report are currently being pursued. HBME has cooperated with the review and has devoted extensive resources to assist the reporting professional and the bank has consistently demonstrated a commitment to strengthen their AML defences wherever necessary.
“Any remediation plan will be monitored by the Commission.”
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