Britain’s largest bank, HSBC, published a full-page apology letter in several British newspapers Sunday, following allegations that the company’s Swiss private banking arm helped clients dodge taxes and conceal millions of dollars in assets.
Six days earlier, a group of media outlets reported on documents leaked by Hervé Falciani, a former systems engineer for HSBC’s Geneva branch.
The documents, dating from 2005 to 2007, show that HSBC “aggressively marketed schemes likely to enable wealthy clients to avoid European taxes” and “provided accounts to international criminals, corrupt businessmen and other high-risk individuals,” the Guardian reported.
In the published letter, HSBC Chief Executive Stuart Gulliver said the bank has “absolutely no appetite to do business with clients who are evading their taxes or who fail to meet our financial crime compliance standards.”
Gulliver stressed that HSBC has made changes since the period covered by the documents, and that its Swiss private bank had been “completely overhauled.”
“We must show we understand that the societies we serve expect more from us,” Gulliver wrote. “We therefore offer our sincerest apologies.”