World Bulletin / News Desk
The Swiss private banking arm of HSBC - the world’s second-largest bank - helped clients place more than $100 billion in Swiss accounts in an effort to evade taxes, according to a report released by investigative journalists.
The files which cover the period 2005-07, shed light on some 30,000 accounts holding almost $120bn (£78bn). The leaks show the cover up made by the banks with the mafia, and the royal family in the Middle East keeping large amounts of black money in undeclared bank accounts.
Published in the German "Suddeutsche Zeitun" magazine, secret documents in the hands of television channels WDR and NDR show that HSBC banks Geneva branch had more than 75 million Euro in undeclared accounts. The same documents show that including Germany, 12 countries had reportedly paid over a billion dollars in fines in 2012. Linked to "Private Bank", HSBC is in more than 200 countries and stores details on 100,000 people.
Amongst their clients is Syrian President Assad including members of his family and government ministers, ex-Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, ex Chinese Prime Minister Li Peng. In addition, they also have the accounts of those who dealing with blood diamonds, illegal arms and those financing terrorist groups.
According to AFP, located in HSBC's account name so is Turkish businessman Selim Alguadiş. Whle Alguadis was serving as director of the EDA in 2009, was listed on the US financial blacklist for selling Iran and Libya nuclear power plant parts. According to the AFP, news confirmed the presence of Alguadiş account.
'Arms dealers and dictators'
Dubbed the "biggest banking leak in history", a consortium of news organizations alleged arms dealers who channeled mortar bombs to child soldiers in Africa, "bag men" for Third World dictators, traffickers in blood diamonds and other international outlaws were among many prominent clients who were assisted by the banking arm based in Geneva.
The Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists along with a group of news outlets including The Guardian in the UK, French daily Le Monde and the BBC's Panorama made the allegations after obtaining data covering the period 2005-2007, which revealed the British multinational banking and financial services company' s Swiss private bank had helped wealthy customers to dodge taxes.
The investigation - published simultaneously by media organisations in 45 countries - alleged that €180.6 billion ($120 billion) passed through accounts held by more than 100,000 clients and 20,000 offshore companies via HSBC in Geneva between Nov. 9, 2006 and March 31, 2007.
"The publication of these figures is likely to prove embarrassing for a good number of celebrities, including the French comedian Gad Elmaleh, King Mohamed VI of Morocco and the American actor John Malkovich, but it will shake the international financial industry to the core, " Le Monde said in an editorial.
HSBC is also alleged to have "served those close" to regimes including that of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, former Tunisian President Ben Ali and current Syrian ruler Bashar al-Assad.
Other clients included former and current politicians, lawyers, artists and businessmen from Britain, France, Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Romania, India, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Senegal, among other nations.
The Guardian newspaper reported the bank routinely allowed clients to withdraw large sums of cash, often in foreign currencies which were of little use in Switzerland and colluded with some clients to conceal undeclared “black” accounts from domestic tax authorities.
It also allegedly opened accounts with international criminals and corrupt businessmen.
The ICIJ reported the leaks shone a light on the crossover between international crime and legitimate business and greatly increased knowledge of potentially illegal or unethical behavior at HSBC in recent years.
The digital files were reportedly stolen from HSBC Private Bank by one of its former staffers, French Herve Falciani in late 2008, and passed to the French tax authorities.
The case was referred to French prosecutors in January 2009, and they have since concentrated their investigations on a small part of the "Falciani lists"– 3,000 or so French citizens suspected of having concealed more than €5.7 billion at HSBC PB with the bank’s collusion.
The Swiss branch of the bank has been placed under formal investigation for the "illicit selling of banking and financial services" and "money laundering with the proceeds of tax evasion" according to Le Monde.
The newspaper says it shared the information with 60 other news outlets around the world in an operation coordinated by the ICIJ.
HSBC admitted wrongdoing by its Swiss subsidiary in a statement released on Monday, saying: "We acknowledge and are accountable for past compliance and control failures."
The Swiss arm had not been fully integrated into HSBC after its purchase in 1999, allowing "significantly lower" standards of compliance and due diligence to persist, it went on.
The bank told the ICIJ in a statement that its Swiss private bank had undergone a "radical transformation in recent years," including reforms that would make it more difficult for clients to evade taxes or launder money.
Last Mod: 09 Şubat 2015, 14:26