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HSBC bank are set to pay £28m over dirty cash claims

By John-Paul Ford Rojas

The banking giant HSBC has agreed to pay 40million Swiss francs (£28m) to settle an investigation by prosecutors in Geneva into alleged aggravated money laundering.

It came after authorities raided the premises of the group's controversial Swiss private bank in February, following allegations that it helped to hide millions of dollars for arms dealers while helping others avoid taxes.

The investigation came about after a former employee leaked a list of thousands of suspected tax evaders to the French authorities in 2008.

Announcing the settlement yesterday, Geneva prosecutors said: "The bank quickly agreed to make a start on the payment of a sum intended to make up for the illegal acts committed previously within its organisation."

HSBC announced in a statement that the probe had found neither it nor its employees were suspected "of any current criminal offences", that the bank had fully co-operated with the authorities' investigation, and that it would not face criminal charges.

It added that it had agreed to pay compensation to Geneva authorities "for past organisational deficiencies".

HSBC said its Swiss private bank "has acknowledged that the compliance culture and standards of due diligence in place in the bank in the past were not as robust as they are today".

The announcement came days ahead of an investor event next week, when HSBC is expected to unveil plans for up to 20,000 job cuts to its global workforce.

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