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HSBC in Guernsey has a branch of the UK - it has a sorting code, although there is a firewall so that UK staff cant see the information (or at least there was when I worked there last year). Historically (in the bad old days) Guernsey would open accounts for anyone (people living in France, Cyprus etc etc) but now the proposition is for locally resident personal customers and locally trading / incorporated firms. HSBC International in Jersey is for internationally based clients and I wonder if the gentleman in question was offered their services? Or an account in France itself as HSBC have a presence there. I can see why HSBC Guernsey would not want someone in France on the books. They cant "get close" to their client. Know your client and all that.