Britain's tax authorities have launched a probe into HSBC bank over offshore accounts opened in Jersey by serious criminals living in the UK, the Daily Telegraph reported Friday.
The Revenue and Customs department opened the inquiry after a whistleblower handed them details of every British client holding an account with the banking giant in the low-tax Channel Island, according to the paper.
The list is reported to include a convicted drug dealer now in Venezuela, a man convicted of possessing hundreds of weapons and three bankers facing major fraud claims.
The bank has a legal duty to report any suspicions about the source of money deposited in its accounts.
The London-listed bank on Monday increased the amount set aside for fines linked to money-laundering in the United States to $1.5 billion, adding it could face criminal charges over the matter.
The Asia-focused lender also announced in a results statement that net profits tumbled by more than half to $2.498 billion in the third quarter, the three months to September, compared with a year earlier.
Jersey, the largest of the Channel Islands, is a self-governing parliamentary democracy and has its own financial, legal and judicial systems.
The island's tax-haven status has come under the microscope as Britons become increasingly angered by revelations of tax-avoidance schemes while they grapple with recession and an unsustainable public deficit.