“We acknowledge and are accountable for past compliance and control failures,” HSBC said in a statement in response to the documents obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists via French newspaper Le Monde.
The documents published Sunday contain data of more than 100,000 of the bank's clients from all over the world who stored money in its Swiss subsidiary. The files show that HSBC advised some of its clients on how to conceal undeclared accounts, and provided services to international criminals.
The documents revealing data on accounts with over $120 billion in assets is considered the biggest leak in banking history.
The data was stolen by a computer expert who worked for HSBC's Geneva office in 2007, and in 2010, French authorities that obtained the files shared them with the US International Revenue Service.
In response to the revelations, HSBC said that the number of accounts in its Swiss bank fell from 30,412 in 2007 to 10,343 in 2014, as the bank is cooperating with authorities investigating tax evasion. However, HSBC added that although it is trying to help the investigation, providing client data to foreign authorities is a criminal offense under Swiss laws.
“Major regulatory reform is under way in numerous jurisdictions to ensure … that in the near future, an individual wishing to 'hide' assets from tax authorities will be unable to do so. HSBC fully welcomes and supports these reforms,” HSBC said in a statement.
HSCB is the world’s second-largest bank and is headquartered in London. It has an international network of 6,200 offices in 74 countries, serving around 52 million customers.