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Greece Asks U.K. Chancellor for HSBC Account Holders in Jersey

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Nov. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras has requested information from the U.K. government on Greeks holding HSBC Holdings Plc accounts in Jersey.

Stournaras wrote to U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne asking for the information, according to an e-mailed statement from the Athens-based Finance Ministry.

British tax authorities are investigating a list of more than 4,000 British residents who have bank accounts with HSBC, Europe’s largest lender, in the offshore tax haven of Jersey, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs said on Nov. 9. The probe comes as London-based HSBC faces a separate investigation into money laundering in the U.S.

Officials for HMRC and HSBC declined to comment on Greece’s request.

The Jersey Financial Services Commission, the island’s financial regulator, said on Nov. 13 it will investigate HSBC’s data loss and examine the “anti-money laundering systems and controls” at the bank. HSBC told the regulator it will co-operate.

HSBC’s Swiss private bank has suffered “reputational and financial damage” since Herve Falciani, a former software technician in Geneva, stole details on 24,000 accounts, HSBC Chief Executive Officer Stuart Gulliver said in May. The French government used the data to search for tax dodgers and shared the information with Italian, Spanish and British prosecutors.

HSBC said last week it’s likely to face criminal charges from U.S. anti-money-laundering probes and warned the cost of a settlement may “significantly” exceed the $1.5 billion the bank has set aside.

Depositors pulled about 69 billion euros ($88 billion) from their accounts in Greece between October 2009 and June this year after the nation triggered a region-wide sovereign-debt crisis. In June, the nation’s elections led households to accelerate outflows to a peak of more than 700 million euros a week. Deposits have stabilized since, rising from about 127.4 billion at the end of June to 130.9 billion euros by the end of September, Greek central bank data show.

To contact the reporters on this story: Howard Mustoe in London at hmustoe@bloomberg.net; Maria Petrakis in Athens at mpetrakis@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Edward Evans at eevans3@bloomberg.net

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