The government of Tunisia has appealed against the decision of the Geneva state prosecutor to drop the investigation against HSBC Private Bank after it agreed to pay CHF40 million ($42.5 million) in compensation to cantonal authorities.
According to information published in the Sunday papers Le Matin Dimanche and SonntagsZeitung, the financial settlement is now under jeopardy because Tunisia had filed an appeal on June 16 claiming that it was detrimental to its interests.
"We fear that this settlement could jeopardise my client's rights in other procedures," stated Yves Klein, a lawyer acting on behalf of the Republic of Tunisia.
Tunisia is claiming CHF114.5 million plus interest from HSBC for having accepted the fortune of Belhassen Trabelsi, the brother-in-law of deposed president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
On February 17, Geneva's public prosecutor raided HSBC's Swiss branch office and initiated proceedings for suspected money laundering. The raid was carried out following so-called Swiss-leaks revelations initiated by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and leading media organisations.
On June 4, Geneva’s state prosecutor ended its money laundering investigation at HSBC’s Swiss branch after the bank agreed to pay the cantonal authorities CHF40 million in compensation without admitting guilt. The bank said in a statement that the payment was compensation to local authorities for past organisational failings and that no criminal charges would be filed.
The Geneva prosecutors justified the deal on the grounds that the questionable accounts had been closed a long time ago and that an investigation would be very time consuming and difficult. The CHF40 million payment was the biggest financial settlement ever obtained by the Geneva justice system.
swissinfo.ch and agencies