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HSBC Admits Swiss Bank Failings Over Client Taxes

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LONDON — British bank HSBC Holdings Plc. admitted failings by its Swiss subsidiary Sunday in response to media reports that it helped wealthy customers dodge taxes and conceal millions of dollars of assets.

"We acknowledge and are accountable for past compliance and control failures," HSBC said Sunday after news outlets, including French newspaper Le Monde and Britain's The Guardian, published allegations about its Swiss private bank. The Guardian, along with other news outlets, cited documents obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists via Le Monde.

HSBC said its Swiss arm had not been fully integrated into HSBC after its purchase in 1999, allowing "significantly lower" standards of compliance and due diligence to persist. It said that the Swiss private banking industry, long known for its secrecy, operated differently in the past and that this may have resulted in HSBC's having had "a number of clients that may not have been fully compliant with their applicable tax obligations."

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