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HSBC has issued an apology for amid the ongoing tax avoidance row created by revelations on the practices used by its Swiss private banking arm, saying it has "no appetite" for clients who may seek to avoid paying their taxes or hiding their wealth.
In a letter addressed to customers and staff, chief executive Stuart Gulliver said the revelations over the past week had been a "painful experience".
HSBC boss Stuart Gulliver has said the bank has "absolutely no appetite to do business with clients who are evading their taxes", despite allegations of a major tax-avoidance scandal at the bank.
Gulliver said today that the bank supported government initiatives to exchange tax information and had implemented a US tax information disclosure regime, as well as undergoing a full overhaul of its Swiss private bank which the allegations relate to.
The bank is currently facing historic allegations that its Swiss banking arm helped some of their richest clients conceal assets and avoid taxes.
French finance minister Michel Sapin said today that France had not restricted the use of HSBC client data which it passed to UK authorities investigating potential tax evaders.
Sapin denied allegations made in parliament this week that suggested his country had restricted the use of banking data which could have led to tax avoidance prosecutions and said he "did not understand" why Britain's Financial Secretary to the Treasury David Gauke had implicated France.
He said: "The HSBC data were sent to them in 2010 under our bilateral conventions.
"If the British tax authorities wanted to open a court case, they most certainly could. Then it's a matter of judicial cooperation."
The chief executive of HSBC has admitted that the bank "sometimes failed to live up to the standards" expected by society as it faces allegations of a major tax-avoidance scandal.
Stuart Gulliver sent a memo to staff following "painful" allegations relating to the bank's Swiss subsidiary acknowledging at times practices had not met expected standards.
Mr Gulliver wrote in the memo: "I know the recent media coverage about past practices at our Swiss private bank and the financial affairs of some of our Swiss private bank clients has been painful for you to read and watch.
"You have been working tirelessly and with great dedication to build a stronger HSBC with fully global businesses and functions, rigorous controls and the highest global standards, all underpinned by a clear strategy to serve our millions of loyal customers.
"I share your frustration that the media focus on historical events makes it harder for people to see the efforts we have made to put things right.
"But we must acknowledge we sometimes failed to live up to the standards the societies we serve rightly expected from us."
Britain's Serious Fraud Office said it was open to discussion with HM Revenue and Customs over allegations that HSBC's Swiss subsidiary helped people evade taxes.
"We are open to discussion and happy to help in any way we can," a spokesman said.
The bank worker who blew the whistle on the alleged HSBC tax avoidance scandal claims he first contacted HMRC in 2008 - but nothing was done for two years.
Herve Falciani, who initially obtained the information while working in IT in 2007, said authorities only have a "tiny part" of the picture.
Mr Falciani claims more "could have been done before" and there was "100-fold" more information than UK tax authorities currently have available.
A row broke out in the Commons yesterday when Ed Miliband accused Tory donors of being on a list of people who allegedly avoided paying tax.
The Labour leader has now been challenged to repeat the claims outside parliament, where he would not be protected from legal action.
The details of 3,600 British residents with Swiss accounts were looked into by HMRC as part of the investigation into the HSBC tax avoidance scandal but only three files were passed on to the CPS, it emerged today.
The revelation came as the head of HMRC faced a grilling from MPs over why tax inspectors haven't investigated more people on the list of HSBC Swiss bank account holders.
ITV News Business Editor Joel Hills reports on the latest developments:
Ed Miliband has accused David Cameron of being a "dodgy Prime Minister" over the HSBC tax avoidance scandal.
The Labour leader claimed seven Tory donors, who had given nearly £5 million to the Conservative Party, were on a list of HSBC account holders.
In Prime Minister's Question Time, Miliband said: "How can the Prime Minister explain the revolving door between the Tory Party HQ and the Swiss branch of HSBC? He's a dodgy Prime Minister, surrounded by dodgy donors".
The Prime Minister said he had seen the same list and the Lord who funded Gordon Brown's election campaign was on it.
Latest ITV News reports
HSBC whistleblower revealing tax avoidance scandal has told ITV News that he was "never" invited to the UK despite contacting HRMC.
Labour have demanded the government makes public what they knew about the HSBC tax-dodging scandal.