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(Bloomberg) -- Authorities searched the offices of HSBC Holdings Plc’s Swiss private bank as part of a probe into money laundering.
The prosecutor’s office in Geneva said in an e-mailed statement Wednesday that it had opened the investigation in connection with recent “public disclosures.”
A report this month by an international news organization provided fresh details of how the unit aided in avoiding taxes and money laundering. Spokesmen for HSBC in Geneva didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
HSBC has come under political fire in the U.K. since the report by the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which was based on a data theft in 2008.
Chief Executive Stuart Gulliver offered “sincerest apologies” in full-page advertisements published in several British newspapers over the weekend. He wrote that the Swiss private bank had been “completely overhauled” since 2008 and 106 of 140 clients mentioned in files cited by ICIJ and other media are no longer with HSBC.
A self-described whistle-blower and former information technology worker, Herve Falciani, stole client account details from HSBC’s Geneva office in 2008 and passed them to the French government, which later shared the information with other countries. HSBC’s Swiss unit is the subject of tax investigations in the U.S., France and Belgium.
Switzerland’s Financial Supervisory Authority, Finma, made three inquiries since the data theft, of which two concerned money laundering, and imposed measures around accepting politically-exposed persons as clients, the regulator said last week in a statement.
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