HSBC in laundering probe
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.