LONDON (Reuters) - A panel of British lawmakers said on Monday they planned to open an inquiry into HSBC Holdings Plc , after media reports that the bank helped wealthy customers dodge taxes and conceal millions of dollars of assets.
The British bank admitted compliance failings by its Swiss subsidiary on Monday, following reports based on documents obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists that alleged the bank had helped clients hide money from tax authorities across Europe.
"Today’s shocking revelations about HSBC further expose a secretive global industry serving a wealthy elite," Margaret Hodge, a Labour party member and chair of the Public Accounts Committee, said in a speech to a meeting outside the chamber in the Houses of Parliament.
"The Public Accounts Committee will be launching an urgent inquiry to which we will require HSBC to give evidence – and we will order them if necessary".
Tax avoidance has become a hot political issue before a general election due in May of this year. The opposition Labour party accuses the ruling Conservative party of being the party of hedge funds and "tax avoiders".
Reporting by Tom Bergin; Editing by Larry King