British banking giant HSBC has been accused of providing accounts on the island of Jersey for alleged drug dealers and gun runners.
HM Revenue & Customs, the U.K. tax authority, has obtained details on every British client of HSBC in Jersey after a whistleblower leaked the data, according to the Daily Telegraph.
The newspaper claims that the list of more than 4,000 clients includes drug dealers, gun runners, bankers accused of fraud and cyber criminals.
HMRC confirmed Friday that it has received and is studying the data. The tax authority did not comment on specific HSBC clients, but pledged to "crack down" on tax cheats if it finds evidence of wrongdoing.
"Clamping down on those who try to cheat the system through evading taxes and over claiming benefits is a top priority for us and we value the information we receive from the public and business community," said an HMRC spokesman in a statement.
Jersey, a 5-by-9-mile island just off the coast of France belonging to the British Crown, is one of the richest tax havens in the world.
HSBC (HBC) said it was urgently looking into the matter. The bank added that it had not been notified of any investigation by HMRC, but said it would fully cooperate with authorities if it was notified.
"HSBC remains fully committed to adoption of the highest global standards including the procedures for the acceptance of clients," the bank said in a statement.
This is not the first time HSBC has been accused of providing financial services for criminals.
In July, U.S. lawmakers issued a report claiming that HSBC failed to prevent billions of dollars worth of money transfers that were allegedly linked to drug cartels and terrorist groups.
HSBC reported Monday that it turned a profit of $5 billion in the third quarter, a figure held down by the scandal-plagued bank's efforts to absorb a series of fines and penalties.
The London-based firm set aside $800 million to pay fines that may result from the bank's alleged links to drug cartels and terrorist groups. In the second quarter, the bank set aside an initial $700 million for the same MORECharles Riley - Nov 5, 2012 5:32 AM ET
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Paul R. La Monica. Other than Time Warner, the parent of CNNMoney, and Abbott Laboratories, La Monica does not own positions in any individual stocks.
Happy days are here again for the stock market. If you love round numbers, then today is your day. The Dow is back above 13,000. Nasdaq has vaulted above 3,000 again. And the S&P 500 has MOREPaul R. La Monica - Aug 7, 2012 12:55 PM ET
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