French give us a lesson in getting tough with banks


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The Independent Online

Outlook The French authorities have launched another volley of punches at HSBC, placing the bank under formal investigation with bail set at €1bn (£730m) and expanding their inquiry into the way the Swiss business handled its clients’ tax affairs. This is a slugfest that is moving towards a potentially brutal final round.

While fighting the case is clearly costly, and with the bank saying it will “vigorously “ defend itself, probably time consuming and difficult, the French prosecutors show no signs of giving up in the absence of a settlement that might make even the Americans blanch.

The contrast between their behaviour and that of the authorities in HSBC’s home country could hardly be more stark. The bank keeps saying that it’s staying put, for now, whenever it is asked about the possibility of deserting these shores.

Perhaps now we know why.