UPDATE 1-SocGen's Oudea defends bank over Panama Papers
(Adds Oudea comments, Le Monde report)
By Maya Nikolaeva and Julien Ponthus
PARIS May 11 (Reuters) - Societe Generale's chief defended the bank over the Panama Papers revelations during a two-hour grilling by lawmakers on Wednesday, rejecting accusations the French lender was at the heart of tax evasion.
The public Senate hearing held to get to the root of the matter came the same day Le Monde newspaper widened the list of French banks under the tax haven spotlight to include BNP Paribas, Credit Agricole and Credit Mutuel.
Societe Generale Chief Executive Frederic Oudea has been thrust to the fore of a controversy over the use of secretive tax havens since an investigative news syndicate exposed the activities of Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca.
The reports, based on 11.5 million leaked documents, put SocGen near the top of a list of banks around the world that had created hundreds of thousands of shell companies in Panama and other offshore centres between 1977 and 2015. The leaked documents showed the French bank had created 979 such firms.
Also at issue were accusations that Oudea misled senators when he told a Senate committee in 2012 that his bank had closed operations in Panama and other tax havens identified as overly secretive or short of international transparency standards.
At the public hearing on Wednesday, Oudea reiterated that the bank had no offices or staff in Panama as of 2012, as he had told the Senate committee that year, when he was also head of France's banking association.
"To imply that Societe Generale group is at the heart of tax evasion is false and unjustified," Oudea said. Continuación...