The Swiss unit of HSBC actively helped a range of criminal clients evade taxes through secret accounts. The latest revelations come from data stolen in 2008 by an ex-employee of the bank who was based in Geneva.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists analysed the data taken from HSBC’s private banking arm by Hervé Falciani. It was originally passed onto the French government, but a report released on Sunday looked at a more detailed list of account holders.
Clients included terror suspects, arms dealers, drug cartels and fugitive diamond merchants, alongside royal families and athletes. The report says that these account holders were assisted in concealing their identities, evading taxes and hiding assets.
Diamond dealers Mozes Victor Konig and Kenneth Lee Akselrod, who are wanted by the international police agency, Interpol, appear on the list of the bank’s clients, as does a political figure close to the now deceased Haitian president, Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, accused of large-scale embezzlement.
The bank said its Swiss unit, which is based in Geneva, had not been completely integrated into HSBC since it was acquired in 1999, and in a statement added, “We acknowledge and are accountable for past compliance and control failures.”
The bank says it now has 70% fewer Swiss accounts since 2007.
swissinfo.ch and agencies