HSBC in laun­der­ing probe

The Witness - Wheels - - NEWS -

BER­LIN — Geneva pros­e­cu­tors searched the premises of HSBC’s Swiss sub­sidiary yes­ter­day af­ter launch­ing a money- laun­der­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion over a re­port that the bank helped hide mil­lions of dol­lars for drug traf­fick­ers, arms deal­ers and celebri­ties.

Pros­e­cu­tors said they were in­ves­ti­gat­ing HSBC Pri­vate Bank ( Suisse) SA and per­sons un­known for sus­pected ag­gra­vated money laun­der­ing. The in­ves­ti­ga­tion could later be ex­tended to peo­ple sus­pected of com­mit­ting or par­tic­i­pat­ing in money laun­der­ing, they said in a state­ment.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion stemmed from “the re­cent public rev­e­la­tions” about the pri­vate bank, pros­e­cu­tors said.

Last week’s re­port from the In­ter­na­tion- al Con­sor­tium of In­ves­tiga­tive Jour­nal­ists and sev­eral news or­gan­i­sa­tions found the bank hid mil­lions of dol­lars as it helped wealthy peo­ple around the world dodge taxes. It was based on leaked doc­u­ments cov­er­ing the pe­riod up to 2007 and re­lat­ing to ac­counts worth $ 100 bil­lion held by more than 100 000 peo­ple and legal en­ti­ties from 200 coun­tries.

A for­mer HSBC em­ployee, Herve Fal­ciani, gave the data to French tax au­thor­i­ties in 2008. France shared it with other gov­ern­ments and launched in­ves­ti­ga­tions. The French news­pa­per Le Monde ob­tained a ver­sion of the data and shared the ma­te­rial with the ICJ, which an­a­lysed the ma­te­rial to­gether with other in­ter­na­tional me­dia.

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