“The Justice Department is expected to file a lawsuit Thursday that seeks to force HSBC India to reveal the names of U.S. customers with secret accounts, according to a person familiar with the matter.
The department is expected to file the legal action in a San Francisco federal court, this person said.
The move opens up a new front in the U.S. crackdown on tax evasion and comes days before the April deadline for taxpayers to file individual returns.
To date, U.S. efforts against offshore tax evasion have focused heavily on Swiss bank accounts.
UBS AG admitted in February 2009 to conspiring to defraud the U.S. government of billions in taxes by helping wealthy Americans hide assets. The bank paid $780 million in a deal to avoid prosecution and eventually released the names of more than 4,000 U.S. clients.
In February 2011, the Internal Revenue Service announced a second leniency program that offers reduced penalties to tax scofflaws that voluntarily report their offshore accounts. The agency offered the first program in 2009 in the wake of the U.S. case against UBS.
The Justice Department sent signals this year that London-based HSBC Holdings PLC’s India operations were in its sights. Prosecutors indicted a New Jersey businessman In January on charges that he conspired to evade taxes by hiding offshore bank accounts in India maintained by HSBC.”
The January indictment didn’t identify the bank by name, saying only that the institution “was one of the largest international banks in the world and was headquartered in England.” A person familiar with the case said the bank was HSBC.