The search for U.S. offshore tax shelters won’t be ending with UBS.
HSBC announced Thursday that 24,000 accounts — nearly one-quarter of the bank’s worldwide clientele — may have been compromised last year by an employee who stole client data. Now U.S. Department of Justice and IRS officials believe they will be able to obtain the data, which likely includes names of U.S.-based clients using the accounts to evade paying taxes, Reuters reported Friday.
In December, a former HSBC employee, Herve Falciani, allegedly took information on thousands Swiss accounts and turned it over to French tax authorities. According to the news service, U.S. officials believe they can negotiate with France to obtain the information via a treaty.
“To the extent the HSBC data includes U.S. based taxpayers having interests in HSBC foreign accounts, it is a virtual certainty such information will be delivered to the U.S. government,” attorney Chuck Rettig, who presents U.S. clients who held previously undisclosed accounts, told Reuters.
While not condoning the theft, U.S. officials hope the leak might lead more people to come forward.
“A lot of folks, and they seem to be IT (information technology) people, see what’s happening” and bring information to the U.S., Reuters quoted Kevin Downing, a top DOJ lawyer, as telling a group of private and government lawyers at a conference in Washington. “We welcome these guys; please come in.”
Read more from the Reuters account here.