PARIS, April 8 (Reuters) - Societe Generale’s board of directors backed the French bank’s executives on Friday after analysis of the leaked Panama Papers revealed it was one of the most active lenders in setting up shell companies in the central American country.
Chairman Lorenzo Bini Smaghi said in a statement the board was “especially vigilant” to ensure the group followed compliance rules, particularly relating to money laundering and tax evasion.
He said the board expressed its full support for the group’s management after what he said had been false and misleading attacks.
“The board underlines again that, since 2010, the group has had a tax code of conduct that is fully available to the public,” SocGen said. “This code, which was approved by the board of directors, bans any operation where the purpose would be to act against tax transparency.”
SocGen was this week ranked fourth in a list of international banks creating shell companies in Panama since the 1990s, with a total of 979 created. The bank responded on Monday by saying it had abided by all the rules of the countries in which it operates and was proactive in fighting tax fraud.
French Finance Minister Michel Sapin said on Wednesday he had questioned the head of SocGen about its record creating shell companies and opening client accounts in Panama following the leaks.
SocGen added on Friday it had decided in 2010 to close all establishments in countries on the French authorities’ list of non-cooperative states. It added that it ensured companies belonging to clients of the bank were tax transparent. (Reporting by Julien Ponthus; Editing by David Holmes)