The Geneva public prosecutor says it has initiated proceedings against the Swiss branch of HSBC for suspected money laundering. The justice authorities on Wednesday carried out a search of the bank’s premises.
The prosecutor announced that following recent public revelations about the HSBC Private Bank - a Swiss subsidiary of a leading British bank - a criminal case has been filed against the bank and unknown persons for money laundering.
Regardless of the criminal liability of its employees, the bank can be prosecuted if it failed to take all the organisational measures necessary to prevent infringement from occurring.
Depending on its evolution of the investigation, the process is also likely to extend to individuals suspected of participating in money laundering within the bank, according to a statement by the prosecutor’s office.
On Sunday, chief executive Stuart Gulliver apologised for the Swiss branch’s past actions in an open letter. He claimed that the whole episode was a “painful experience” for the group.
“We must show we understand that the societies we serve expect more from us. We therefore offer our sincerest apologies,” stated the letter.
Gulliver also claimed that it no longer the same bank it was eight years ago.
“We have absolutely no appetite to do business with clients who are evading their taxes or who fail to meet our financial crime compliance standards,” stated the letter.