HSBC faces money laundering charges in Jersey

Britain's leading bank, HSBC, which is under fire from anti-corruption activist Arvind Kejriwal for allegedly operating a 'hawala' service in India, faces equally serious charges around the globe, the latest relating to possible tax evasion and even money laundering in Jersey in the Channel Islands.

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), the British government's revenue and customs wing, has launched a probe into HSBC's operations in Jersey after the Daily Telegraph published a leaked report indicating that the bank had allowed alleged criminals to open accounts in the tax haven.

''We can confirm we have received the data and we are studying it,'' a spokesperson of the HMRC said. ''We receive information from a very wide range of sources which we use to ensure the tax rules are being respected.''

Antonio Simoes, the head of the bank's UK operations, flew to Jersey to investigate the leak of data relating to more than 4,000 British customers, including their account details. ''I would like to apologise to customers who may be concerned by the alleged misappropriation of data from HSBC International Limited, Jersey,'' said Simoes before leaving for the Channel Islands. ''I would like to reassure clients that we take our duty to protect their data extremely seriously. We have already taken steps to improve procedures.''

The leaked data in the British paper identified 4,388 individuals, including celebrities, bankers, doctors and oil industry executives, living in the UK and holding £699 million in current accounts. Besides, it identified another 4,000 account-holders living outside Britain.

Last week, the bank admitted that it could be fined more than $1.5 billion, besides facing criminal charges, following an anti-money laundering probe against it in the US. The bank is facing charges of having facilitated the laundering of Mexican drug money.