The suspected banks risk fines and penalty interest totalling one billion euros (equivalent to just over SEK 11 billion).

The raid is focused on the banks' operations in central Paris and in the office district of La Défense, west of the French capital's inner city. It is part of an investigation that is said to have been ongoing since December 2021.

150 investigators

Six German prosecutors are also participating in the investigation and a total of 150 investigators have been deployed in the crackdown on the banks.

The French major bank Société Générale confirms that it is one of the banks under investigation. The stock fell marginally on the Paris stock exchange after the announcement.

According to prosecutors, HSBC, BNP Paribas with subsidiary Exane and Natixis are also included as suspects in the investigation.

Hired front men

The investigation revolves around transactions that appear to be aimed at avoiding taxation on dividends with the help of temporarily hired frontmen as shareholders.

In Germany, a large number of banks – including Swedish SEB's German subsidiaries – have been singled out as participants in similar schemes to help customers escape tax.

SEB has previously distanced itself from the type of arrangement under investigation.