Following last month's reports that HSBC's Swiss private bank served thousands of possible tax cheats, the U.K. government outlined plans Thursday to target tax evaders and those who assist them. In a 24-page proposal attached to an annual budget request, U.K. Chancellor George Osborne said that the Conservative government would "take every opportunity" to design legislation that would impose strict-liability, criminal charges on serial tax evaders and preclude them from pleading ignorance to escape prosecution. Companies caught helping individuals to hide undeclared wealth overseas would face the new offense of "failing to prevent tax evasion or the facilitation of tax...
The newly elected Tory government wants to empower the United Kingdom's Charity Commission to close down groups that "misappropriate funds towards extremism and terrorism" as part of its efforts to combat terrorism.
Facing parliamentary criticism, HSBC's top executives conceded Wednesday to "unacceptable" failures of its Swiss private banking unit that led to likely account abuses and subsequent reputational damage.
The U.K. is considering a money laundering investigation of HSBC's Swiss operations in light of recent allegations that the bank maintained accounts for financial criminals, a British official said Wednesday.