Dictators, arms dealers, ministers, movie stars, businessmen, shopkeepers, royalty, clothing merchants from 203 countries and territories, they all parked more that €100 billion to HSBC in Switzerland. The bank helped its clients dodge taxes and hide millions from the tax officers in their country. Not without a profit for the bank itself, of course.
The so-called “Swiss Leaks”, that is the “biggest banking leak in history” fell like a bombshell Sunday night. The files cover 30,000 accounts, 106,000 bank clients from 203 countries sheltering more than $100 billion in the period 2005-07. The SwissLeaks were obtained and investigated for 6 months by an international collaboration of 140 journalists around the world and the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.
Academics estimate that $7 trillion are “parked in tax heavens, while the amount of tax evasion is estimated $175 billion.
Total amount approx. $2.6 billion
2,460 bank accounts
Greece is ranked #28 among the countries with the largest dollar amounts in the leaked Swiss files.
The maximum amount of money associated with a client connected to Greece was $525.4M.
How much is this for Greece?
Greece’s GDP per capita was $28.5K in 2007. The top 10% held 25.68% of income in 2007. (Source: World Bank)
According to daily Ta Nea, that participated in the investigation,
The SwissLeaks investigation shows that 86 accounts of Greek interests were not included in the so-called “Lagarde List”.
Lagarde List was given to Greek Finance Ministry in 2010 but the French authorities, when Christine Lagarde was FinMin – now head of IMF. Ex FinMin Giorgos Papakostantinou is to appear in front of a special court for allegedly having deleted the names of three his relatives form the Lagarde List.
The HSBC leak began as a rogue operation by a computer technician, Herve Falciani, who left the company in 2008 with five disks of confidential information.
HSBC files show how Swiss bank helped clients dodge taxes and hide millions
HSBC’s Swiss banking arm helped wealthy customers dodge taxes and conceal millions of dollars of assets, doling out bundles of untraceable cash and advising clients on how to circumvent domestic tax authorities, according to a huge cache of leaked secret bank account files.
The files – obtained through an international collaboration of news outlets, including the Guardian, the French daily Le Monde, BBC Panorama and the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists – reveal that HSBC’s Swiss private bank:
• Routinely allowed clients to withdraw bricks of cash, often in foreign currencies of little use in Switzerland.
• Aggressively marketed schemes likely to enable wealthy clients to avoid European taxes.
• Colluded with some clients to conceal undeclared “black” accounts from their domestic tax authorities.
• Provided accounts to international criminals, corrupt businessmen and other high-risk individuals.
The HSBC files, which cover the period 2005-2007, amount to the biggest banking leak in history, shedding light on some 30,000 accounts holding almost $120bn (£78bn) of assets.
Approached by the Guardian, HSBC, the world’s second largest bank, has now admitted wrongdoing by its Swiss subsidiary. “We acknowledge and are accountable for past compliance and control failures,” the bank said in a statement.
(full article The Guardian)
Have all HSBC clients evaded taxes? This is not clear and it is up to governments and national finance ministries to investigate.
A member of powerful German industrialists family the Flicks is also on the Swissleaks, as well as diamond dealers Mozes Victor Konig and Kenneth Lee Akselrod, Russian oligarch Gennady Timchenko, King Mohammed VI of Morocco, dozens of members of the Saudi royal family (see also Bloomberg).
According to International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, among the prominent figures with HSBC accounts are fashion designers Valentino and Diane von Fuesrtenberg, musician Phil Collins, actors Christian Slater, Joan Collins and Gad Elmaleh, model Elle Mc Pherson, motorsports figure Flavio Briatore, Finnish Formula 1 racing driver Heikki Kovalainen, Peace and hostage negotiator Jean-Yves Ollivier and many others.