Learn more about our policy experts.

Media Contacts

Angela Bradbery, Director of Communications
w. (202) 588-7741
c. (202) 503-6768
abradbery@citizen.org, Twitter

Don Owens, Deputy Director of Communications
w. (202) 588-7767

David Rosen, Press Officer, Regulatory Affairs
w. (202) 588-7742

Luis Castilla, Press Officer, Public Citizen’s Texas office
w. (512) 637-9467

Other Important Links

Press Release Database
Citizen Vox blog
Texas Vox blog
Consumer Law and Policy blog
Energy Vox blog
Eyes on Trade blog

Follow us on Twitter


Feb. 10, 2015

Public Citizen Demands Full Account of HSBC Tax Evasion Case

Statement of Bartlett Naylor, Financial Policy Advocate, Public Citizen’s Congress Watch Division

Public Citizen applauds the international media investigation into HSBC’s dealings with more than 100,000 clients for whom the bank provided Swiss bank accounts in possible attempts to help them conceal assets and evade taxes. Helping clients to evade taxes is a violation of federal law.

Because they were reportedly given a list in 2010 of roughly 2,900 U.S. residents holding HSBC-furnished Swiss bank accounts, the U.S. Department of Justice and IRS are obliged to explain what steps they have taken to investigate whether HSBC or its account holders have violated the law. To the extent that the federal departments have learned of legal violations related to the list of account holders, they should inform the public.

A recent Public Citizen report (PDF) itemizes other recent problems at HSBC. The report enumerates that HSBC furnished “correspondent” bank accounts with multi-jurisdictional financial services firm, Sovereign Management & Legal Ltd., which the Justice Department accused of aiding clients in tax evasion. Separately, in November 2014, Belgium accused HSBC of helping its residents evade taxes.

All of this news comes on the heels of a deferred prosecution agreement signed in 2012 by the Justice Department and HSBC over money laundering crimes. That agreement, in which HSBC agreed to pay $1.9 billion but escaped criminal conviction, was widely criticized for failing to punish HSBC in proportion with the crimes the bank committed. The settlement was signed by U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch, who awaits U.S. Senate confirmation to become the new U.S. attorney general.

The newly revealed allegations that HSBC conspired with clients to evade taxes raise all sorts of additional questions, especially because the HSBC actions described by the journalism consortium predated the deferred prosecution agreement.

U.S. senators deciding whether to confirm Lynch should take time to learn what she and the Justice Department knew about HSBC’s complicity in tax evasion at the time the deferred prosecution agreement was signed.


Copyright © 2017 Public Citizen. Some rights reserved. Non-commercial use of text and images in which Public Citizen holds the copyright is permitted, with attribution, under the terms and conditions of a Creative Commons License. This Web site is shared by Public Citizen Inc. and Public Citizen Foundation. Learn More about the distinction between these two components of Public Citizen.

Public Citizen, Inc. and Public Citizen Foundation


You can support the fight for greater government and corporate accountability through a donation to either Public Citizen, Inc., or Public Citizen Foundation, Inc.

Public Citizen lobbies Congress and federal agencies to advance Public Citizen’s mission of advancing government and corporate accountability. When you make a contribution to Public Citizen, you become a member of Public Citizen, showing your support and entitling you to benefits such as Public Citizen News. Contributions to Public Citizen are not tax-deductible.

Public Citizen Foundation focuses on research, public education, and litigation in support of our mission. By law, the Foundation can engage in only very limited lobbying. Contributions to Public Citizen Foundation are tax-deductible.