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HSBC Offshore Account Holders Investigated

(c) Sky News 2012

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has said it is studying a list of British HSBC customers in Jersey after a whistleblower handed over a list of names, addresses and account balances.

The department will now investigate the customers’ details to establish whether any of them used the offshore accounts to evade tax.

Together, the 4,388 UK-based customers have a total of £699m in the bank accounts - which were often undisclosed to tax authorities, the Daily Telegraph claimed.

It said a number of criminals, former bankers, doctors, mining and oil workers, celebrities and other well-known figures are on the list.

"We can confirm we have received the data and we are studying it," HMRC said in a statement.

"We receive information from a very wide range of sources which we use to ensure the tax rules are being respected.

"Clamping down on those who try to cheat the system through evading taxes and overclaiming benefits is a top priority for us and we value the information we receive from the public and business community."

HSBC (LSE: HSBA.L - news) , the UK's largest bank, said: "We are investigating the reports of an alleged loss of certain client data in Jersey as a matter of urgency.

"We have not been notified of any investigation in relation to this matter by HMRC or any other authority but, should we receive notification, we will cooperate fully with the authorities.

"HSBC remains fully committed to adoption of the highest global standards including the procedures for the acceptance of clients."

The report comes after the bank set aside a further $800m (£500m) to cover settlements for breaching anti-money-laundering rules, as revealed by Sky News' City Editor .

The move takes its total bill to around $1.5bn (£935m) to cover fines from US authorities, which are investigating the bank's procedures in Mexico.

Tax authorities around the world are in the process of clamping down on people who evade taxes by putting their money offshore.

Last week a Greek magazine published the details of more than 2,000 HSBC clients with Swiss accounts.

The information came from a list distributed to European authorities in 2010 by Christine Lagarde, then France's finance minister, after a whistleblower in Geneva sold the details.

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