This was stated in an article published on the website of the International Consortium for Investigative Journalism (ICIJ).
The documents of the HSBC bank from 2005 to 2007, which were obtained by journalists, contain information about 30 thousand accounts – with assets worth about 120 billion dollars. According to the investigation, the Venezuelan government kept the highest amount of money in the bank kept – around 12.6 billion dollars.
Confidential information was provided to Le Monde newspaper and ICIJ Christine Lagarde, who at the time served as Finance Minister of France. The documents were handed to Lagarde by a former employee of the HSBC bank Herve Falchiani who stole five data CDs when he was fired.
The London headquarters of the bank made a statement that HSBC admits its guilt and accepts full responsibility for the illegal actions of the Swiss branch. According to the headquarters, the Geneva office was not fully integrated into the credit institution system. A representative of the bank also noted that since 2007, HSBC completed a “radical transformation” and launched several initiatives to “ensure that the bank services are not being used for tax evasion and money laundering.”
Law enforcement agencies in several European countries have stated that the leak has helped them to obtain information on billions of dollars of unpaid taxes.
In November of 2014, Belgian investigating authorities launched an investigation into the activities of the Swiss branch of the credit institution HSBC Private Bank. A year earlier, Argentine authorities also accused the bank in assisting individuals to launder money and evade taxes.
In 2012, the HSBC bank, which is accused in the US of illegal financial transactions, agreed to pay the US government 1.9 billion dollars after providing evidence that the organization had laundered money of Mexican drug traffickers.
HSBC is one of the largest financial conglomerates in the world. Its branch network has more than 6,900 offices in 84 countries worldwide.