984 HK and 246 mainland clients named on HSBC list of hiding assets, including Li Xiaolin – the daughter of former Premier Li Peng; HSBC admits failings after helping criminals hide assets; The Swiss Leaks: Bill Whitaker investigates the biggest leak in Swiss banking history and examines HSBC’s business dealings with a collection of international outlaws



984 HK clients named on list

Imogene Wong
Tuesday, February 10, 2015
The Swiss private banking arm of HSBC Holdings (0005) had 984 Hong Kong and 246 mainland clients, including Li Xiaolin – the daughter of former Premier Li Peng.The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists said the HSBC unit’s Hong Kong clients had assets amounting to US$1.8 billion – or 36th by monetary value in the 200 or so countries and places where it did business.

The mainland came in at 61 with assets valued at US$517 million.

Consortium investigators mainly collected the names of the clients between 1988 and 2007, while account balances of customers were dated from 2006 to 2007.

Li – also the chairwoman of China Power International Development (2380) – and her husband were holders of an account that had a balance of US$2.48 million from 2006 to 2007.

They became HSBC clients in 2001 but the company which held the account was dissolved in 2012.

ICIJ also named Joseph Paul Fok, a judge of the Court of Final Appeal, as one of the bank’s clients. No amount was mentioned, but he was the holder of an account that was closed in 2002.

ICIJ stressed: “It’s not illegal in most countries to maintain offshore bank accounts, and being identified as holding an HSBC Private Bank account is of itself no indication of any wrongdoing.”

Both Li and Fok did not respond to ICIJ’s repeated requests for comment.



HSBC admits failings after helping criminals hide assets

LONDON — British bank HSBC Holdings has admitted failings by its Swiss subsidiary, after a report released on Sunday showed that it profited from doing business with criminals, including traffickers in blood diamonds to bag men for Third World dictators and other international outlaws.

BY –


LONDON — British bank HSBC Holdings has admitted failings by its Swiss subsidiary, after a report released on Sunday showed that it profited from doing business with criminals, including traffickers in blood diamonds to bag men for Third World dictators and other international outlaws.

HSBC is among a handful of banks to face criminal prosecution in recent years for its role in a Swiss banking system that allowed depositors to conceal their identities, and in many cases, dodge taxes or launder ill-gotten cash.

The report, prepared by the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), revealed the massive sweep of HSBC’s private banking arm as of 2007, when it controlled more than US$100 billion (S$135 billion) in assets and served a swathe of wealthy depositors from the elite to the illicit. The report is a version of the one that tax authorities around the world have had confidential access to since 2010, but the true nature of the misconduct has never been made public until now.

Based on a list of HSBC clients that a former employee took from the bank and turned over to European officials, the report sparked tax investigations across the world from Argentina to France and from the United States to Greece. While some of the names on the list have emerged before, Sunday’s report drew from a more comprehensive list of accounts associated with more than 100,000 people and entities from more than 200 nations.

Depositors spanned from royal families to convicted cocaine dealers, and included ambassadors as well as terror suspects, entertainers and elected officials, corporate executives and athletes. To these and other clients, the bank actively promoted its accounts as an efficient way to hide assets from tax collectors, the report showed.

HSBC, in a written response to the report, said yesterday its compliance efforts had been insufficient. It pointed out that the bank had undergone “a radical transformation” since 2007 and has now enforced far more stringent reporting requirements.

“HSBC has initiated numerous initiatives designed to ensure that its banking services are not used to evade taxes or launder money,” the statement said. London-based HSBC operates in more than 70 countries and has a private banking unit in Geneva.

HSBC said it accepts that part of its responsibility as a bank is to help ensure that its clients are law-abiding and paying taxes and to close the accounts of those who are not. “As a result of this re-positioning, HSBC’s Swiss private bank has reduced its client base by almost 70 per cent since 2007,” it said.

HSBC’s Swiss private bank had 30,412 accounts in 2007 but it reduced that number to 10,343 by the end of last year. Over the same period, client assets in the division fell from US$118.4 billion to US$68 billion, it said.

The report said the bank held deposits for controversial figures such as the political operative for the late Haitian President Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, who was accused of embezzling hundreds of millions before fleeing his country, as well as fugitives such as diamond dealers Mozes Victor Konig and Kenneth Lee Akselrod, whose names appear on the wanted list by Interpol.

Disclosures about HSBC’s clients are the latest blow to the Swiss private banking system, which once offered near-impenetrable privacy . Most countries do not forbid citizens from holding offshore accounts and many are used for legitimate purposes.

Over the past several years, investigations by the US Internal Revenue Service and Justice Department have used threats of criminal prosecution and financial sanctions to pressure UBS Group and Credit Suisse to pay fines and turn over the names of thousands of depositors. Diplomatic pressure also persuaded the Swiss government to enact stricter regulations.

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. He provided details on more than 100,000 accounts to then French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde, now head of the International Monetary Fund. She passed details from the cache — which came to be known as the Falciani List or Lagarde List — to governments around the world.

Investigators in various European countries have said the leaked information has helped them collect billions in unpaid taxes. The US Internal Revenue Service, which French officials said also received the HSBC depositor lists, has declined to say how much in unpaid taxes it has recovered from HSBC depositors. In 2013, however, HSBC reached a US$1.9 billion deferred-prosecution deal with the US Justice Department to resolve claims it enabled Latin American drug cartels to launder money. AGENCIES

The Swiss Leaks

Bill Whitaker investigates the biggest leak in Swiss banking history and examines HSBC’s business dealings with a collection of international outlaws

2015Feb 08


The following script is from “The Swiss Leaks” which aired on Feb. 8, 2015. Bill Whitaker is the correspondent. Ira Rosen and Habiba Nosheen, producers.

This story was reported in collaboration with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

The largest and most damaging Swiss bank heist in history doesn’t involve stolen money but stolen computer files with more than 100,000 names tied to Swiss bank accounts at HSBC, the second largest commercial bank in the world.

A 37-year-old computer security specialist named Hervé Falciani stole the huge cache of data in 2007 and gave it to the French government. It’s now being used to go after tax cheats all over the world. 60 Minutes, working with a group called the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, obtained the leaked files. They show the bank did business with a collection of international outlaws: tax dodgers, arms dealers and drug smugglers — offering a rare glimpse into the highly secretive world of Swiss banking.

This is the stolen data that is shaking the Swiss banking world to its core. It contains names, nationalities, account information, deposit amounts – but most remarkable are these detailed notes revealing the private dealings between HSBC and its clients.

Jack Blum: Well, the amount of information here that has come public is extraordinary. Absolutely extraordinary.

Few people know more about money laundering and tax evasion by banks than Jack Blum.

He’s a former U.S. Senate staff investigator. We asked him to analyze the files for us.

Jack Blum: If you read these notes, what you understand is the bank is trying to accommodate the secrecy needs of the client. And that’s the first concern.

Take the case of British citizen Emmanuel Shallop. He was convicted for selling blood diamonds, those illegal gems used to finance conflicts in Africa. The documents show in 2005 HSBC knew Shallop was under investigation, yet helped hide his assets. “We have opened a company account for him based in Dubai …” one entry read. ”The client is very cautious currently, because he is under pressure from Belgian tax authorities, who are investigating his activities in the area of diamond tax fraud.”

Jack Blum: You get into the notes and you find that they offer various products: shell corporations, trusts, various ways of concealing the ownership of the account. They offer products that they’re gonna give to the customer that will help with a concealment.

Concealment is what Irish businessman John Cashell got from HSBC. His file contained these notes by a bank employee: Cashell’s “pre-occupation is with the risk of disclosure to the Irish authorities.” The employee went on, “I endeavored to reassure him that there is no risk of that happening.” Cashell was later convicted of tax evasion.

The bank files we examined contained more than 4,000 names of people with connections to the U.S., holding more than $13 billion in HSBC accounts.

One was a New Jersey realtor. The notes in her file reveal that she and her family wanted assurance that her assets would be well hidden from U.S. tax collectors.

Jack Blum: And she expresses concerns to the bank, which in turn reassure her that they will find ways to keep her name out of the sights of IRS.

Bill Whitaker: There seems to be evidence of the bank actively helping clients evade– if not cheat.

Jack Blum: Of course.

Bill Whitaker: You say, “Of course.” But for us, looking at these documents here, this is shocking.

Jack Blum: First of all, for the average American taxpayer it’s beyond shocking.

But, perhaps, not that surprising. Swiss banks have been caught protecting tax dodgers before, but never has this much detail been revealed.

Jack Blum: Under U.S. law, any bank that does that, that assists a U.S. person in evading U.S. tax is guilty of a felony. And it doesn’t matter where the bank is located or where the bankers are located.

Bill Whitaker: So, we’re looking at evidence of a felony here?

Jack Blum: Potentially, yes.

The bank notes also show HSBC was a popular place for people in trouble with the law to stash their assets. British citizen Jeffrey Tesler was convicted by the U.S. of funneling $132 million in bribes to the Nigerian government to win billion-dollar engineering contracts. We found he used his family’s HSBC accounts as conduits for the bribes. The documents show that bankers knew Tesler was under investigation, yet failed to shut down those accounts.

None of this would have surfaced had it not been for this man: Hervé Falciani, an HSBC computer security specialist at the Geneva, Switzerland, branch. He stole the data in 2007. He likes that he’s been called the Edward Snowden of Swiss banking. Now a fugitive living in France, he says he grew disillusioned with what he saw at HSBC and began to download “proof” of illegal tax evasion: those internal bank files.

Bill Whitaker: The information you took was not just names but it was–

Hervé Falciani: No.

Bill Whitaker: –correspondence, deposits, deposit numbers.

Hervé Falciani: Exactly. Exactly.

Bill Whitaker: How did you do it?

Hervé Falciani: Friends, let’s say, partners give– gave me these datas.

Bill Whitaker: So, you had accomplices inside the bank?

Hervé Falciani: Of course. I am not the only person in banking system that wants to raise alarm.

But Swiss authorities say Falciani acted alone. When they came looking for him, he fled to France and turned over his files to French authorities.

Christian Eckert: After he came to France, we realized his information was useful to us. We protected him and we used his skills to understand the documents.

Christian Eckert is secretary of state in charge of the budget of France. About six years ago, Falciani gave the French eight DVDs of encrypted data. It took a year to decipher the information. Eckert told us almost every French citizen on the list was evading taxes.

Christian Eckert: We have already reclaimed 250 to 300 million from penalties in back taxes.

French authorities began to disperse the Falciani list to other countries. The Europeans went after tax evaders and so far have collected hundreds of millions of dollars.

Since 2010, billions of dollars have been recovered worldwide. The hunt for tax cheats is ongoing.

Serge Michel: I think this leak is the biggest banking leak ever.

Bill Whitaker: Ever?

Serge Michel: Ever, yes.

Serge Michel is an editor of Le Monde, France’s leading newspaper. Le Monde was first to obtain the secret HSBC files, leaked by a French investigator with access to the data Falciani stole. Overwhelmed by the mountain of information, the paper called on the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists – which gathered more than 140 reporters from 45 countries, who spent more than seven months digging through it all. 60 Minutes was the only U.S. news organization included.

Serge Michel: Le Monde can deal with 3,000 French names, but it cannot deal with 120,000 names all around the world. We understood, it’s too big for us and we can’t have Le Monde reporters working on Italian, Greeks, Chinese, American names.

HSBC declined to respond on camera to what journalists found in the files, but acknowledged to us the bank had been used to evade taxes in the past. In a written statement the bank said, it “has undergone a radical transformation that began in 2008.” It says it will no longer do business with clients it suspects of evading taxes.

But repercussions of the bank’s earlier activities still are being felt. In 2012, the U.S. found HSBC laundered hundreds of millions of dollars of drug cartel money. As a result, the bank had to pay $1.9 billion in settlement.

Jack Blum: For these big banks, the fines that have been imposed amount to a parking ticket.

Bill Whitaker: 1.9 billion in fines is a drop in the bucket for HSBC?

Jack Blum: Exactly. Maybe one quarter’s profits.

As for Hervé Falciani, he’s still a wanted man. In December, Swiss authorities charged him with industrial espionage. He says he’s a whistleblower. The Swiss say he’s a thief. His ex-girlfriend considers him a conman. When Falciani first took the files, she traveled with him to Beirut. She told a British filmmaker he had hoped to sell the data and make millions.

She says she discovered he was a liar and a manipulator. Falciani says he shopped the files around Beirut, hoping to set off alarms and trigger an investigation back in Switzerland. But, as we learned after spending time with Falciani, the truth can be illusive.

Bill Whitaker: The young woman you were traveling with says that you were trying to sell this information in Lebanon?

Hervé Falciani: Of course not. She didn’t know at the time. I wanted just to trigger alert.

Bill Whitaker: So you were using her?

Hervé Falciani: Yeah.

Bill Whitaker: So, you’re manipulating her?

Hervé Falciani: Excuse me. Who is not manipulating? Manipulating just the way to proceed, to convince that what you’re doing is important. Is nothing more than that. Everyone is manipulating.

Falciani did trigger an international alert for his arrest. He became a man on the run. Over the next four years, his strange saga became absolutely bizarre. He says there were attempts on his life and that he was kidnapped by Israeli Mossad intelligence agents, things we could not substantiate.

What we know for sure is that he ended up in a Spanish jail for five months, fighting extradition, and made court appearances wearing disguises, saying he feared for his life.

Bill Whitaker: I’ve read Mossad, kidnappings, shootings, disguises, fake names. Come on. Is this guy for real?

Hervé Falciani: Yeah, this is real. Everything is real.

Bill Whitaker: You know how fantastical this all sounds?

Hervé Falciani: (laugh) Yeah. But I can assure you I was not prepared for that.

Today, he’s a hero in parts of Europe for helping recover billions in unpaid taxes. He says he hasn’t profited from any of this and has been reduced to collecting unemployment.

Bill Whitaker: Did he get paid in any way for the information that he turned over to the French government?

Christian Eckert: He was never paid by the French government. I know other countries buy information from certain bank employees, but it is not the case in France.

Bill Whitaker: Did you want to be paid for this?

Hervé Falciani: I want it, of course. I deserve that.

Bill Whitaker: You deserve to be paid?

Hervé Falciani: But I knew that in Europe it was impossible.

Bill Whitaker: It does leave one wondering if you did this for high-minded purpose, or because, as you were saying, you thought there was profit in this?

Hervé Falciani: Yeah, common profits. I have no problem with profit. I knew that at the same time, I could have both.

Serge Michel: What is important is not really the man. What is important is the data that he provided.

Bill Whitaker: It sounds like what you are saying is his motives may not have been great?

Serge Michel: Yes.

Bill Whitaker: But the result of what he did has been a good thing?

Serge Michel: Has been a transformative thing. This is something that can change laws and practices all over the world.

When the interview with Falciani was over, the man responsible for the biggest breach and leak in Swiss banking history left the way he’d arrived at our meeting…through the streets of Paris on his scooter.

Here they are courtesy of the ICIJ, whose release of the remaining 99,900 or so names is eagerly anticipated:

Abdul-Karim Dan Azoumi, Diamond exporter

Abdoul-Karim Dan-Azoumi is the owner of Badica, the largest diamond exporter in the Central African Republic (CAR). An October 2014 United Nations report by a panel of experts branded Dan-Azoumi’s company a key financial backer of the rebel Seleka group which has been fighting government forces in the CAR conflict that has resulted in the deaths of thousands of civilians. The United Nations alleged that fees paid by Dan-Azoumi’s companies to Séléka rebels in order to illegally export diamonds allowed the rebels to remain armed. Dan-Azoumi lives in Antwerp, Belgium’s diamond capital.

File details

Dan-Azoumi became an HSBC client in 2000. He was linked to five bank accounts. Two of them were associated with a client account under the name of “Kampala Holdings S.A.,” which lists Dan-Azoumi as beneficial owner. The maximum amount in the account in 2006/2007 was $467,592. The other three bank accounts belonged to a numbered client account, which was closed in 2006. He was linked to “32618 BG” alongside another individual. HSBC bank communications explain that the bank closed the account for the benefit of an offshore account that was going to have Dan-Azoumi as beneficial owner.

* * *

Aziza Kulsum Gulamali, Cigarette factory owner, alleged arms dealer

Aziza Kulsum Gulamali, born in Burundi in 1944, is also known as the “Coltan Queen” for her alleged role in trafficking that precious metal, central to much mobile phone technology. The United Nations has criticized Gulamali for financing and providing weapons to rebels during Burundi’s civil war in the early 1990s. In 2002, Swiss authorities charged Gulamali and members of her immediate family with money laundering. The case was later dropped and Gulamali won nominal court costs.

File details

Listed as living in Belgium, Kulsum was linked to three HSBC numbered client accounts opened between 1990 and 1997. One account -15208BAMA- linked to two bank accounts that together held as much as $3.26 million in 2006/2007, was later blocked for unspecified compliance reasons.She showed up as a joint account holder of that numbered client account. The other two accounts were closed in 1995 and 2000. The leaked files do not specify the exact role Kulsum had in relation to these accounts.

* * *

Alejandro Andrade, National treasurer

Alejandro Andrade started as a bodyguard to the late Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez and ended up serving as national treasurer between 2007 and 2010. Andrade was among the military officials that were part of the unsuccessful coup of 1992 together with Chávez. He was close to him during his first presidential campaign and held several financial posts in the Chávez administration. In addition to serving as treasurer, Andrade was also president of the Economic and Social Development Bank of Venezuela (Bandes) between 2008 and 2010. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed a civil action and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York charged four individuals in what prosecutors said was a scheme that generated $66 million in revenue for a Miami brokerage in return for kickbacks and bribes to the vice president of finance at the bank. This occurred during Andrade’s administration but Andrade was not named in the suit. He currently lives in Palm Beach County, Florida, in the wealthy neighborhood of Wellington, and has invested in show horses.

File details

Alejandro Andrade was listed by the HSBC records as an attorney for the client account of the Venezuelan Treasury Office under the Ministry of Finance in 2007, when he assumed the position of national treasurer. The Treasury Office became an HSBC client in 2005 and held an account under the name of the governmental institution. The Treasury client account listed three bank accounts that together held as much as $698 million in 2006/2007. At least six of the other seven clients linked to this account were also Venezuelan officials who worked for the Treasury Office.

* * *

Alfred Taubman, Billionaire

Alfred Taubman, is the billionaire developer who “helped make the mall into America’s modern town square,” according to Forbes. Also a noted philanthropist, Taubman has made large donations to the University of Michigan and to other schools. The former Sotheby’s chairman was fined $7.5 million in 2002 and served 10 months in prison after a jury in New York convicted him of fixing auction prices.

File details

Alfred Taubman was linked to 6 HSBC accounts of which he was listed as beneficial owner of four of them: “M.L.P. MOSCOW LOGISTICS PARK LTD CYPRUS”, “ATHENA BALCHUG LLC”, “BALCHUG (CYPRUS) LIMITED” and “ATHENA BALCHUG (CYPRUS) LIMITED” They were closed by 2007. One of the client accounts opened in 1998, “M.L.P. MOSCOW LOGISTICS PARK LTD” listed one bank account and held as much as $13,706 in 2006/2007.

* * *

Aliko Dangote, Africa’s wealthiest industrialist

In November 2014, Forbes magazine ranked him as the richest man in Africa and the 23rd in the world with an estimated fortune of $21.6 billion. Aliko Dangote is the founder and the current CEO of the Dangote Group, a conglomerate operating in 16 African countries. The Nigerian mogul made his fortune in the production of four major commodities: sugar, salt, flour and cement. However, his businesses have expanded to other sectors, including oil and real estate. He is also the president of the Nigerian Stock Exchange. Reuters reported a Nigerian government announcement in the summer of 2014 that Dangote Group had donated $150 million to stop the spread of Ebola. In October 2014, Nigeria was declared Ebola free.

File details

He became an HSBC client in 2003 and was a beneficial owner of a client account with the Swiss bank from July 2003 to August 2004. The account appeared in the name of Development Projects Corporation. The leaked files placed its registration address in the British Virgin Islands.

* * *

Álvaro Noboa, Politician and head of agribusiness empire

Considered the richest man in Ecuador, he is also a politician. He failed to become the president of Ecuador when he ran five times in elections between 1998 and 2013. Under the conglomerates of Grupo Noboa and Corporación Noboa, this Ecuadorean in his mid-sixties manages 110 companies all around the world. Bonita bananas is one of Noboa’s most popular brands. In addition to his banana exporting business, his holdings include media, real estate, banking and other companies. Noboa and his companies have fought many legal battles, including over allegations of tax evasion, child labor, and sexual harassment. He has also so far evaded an attempt by a former business partner to collect an $8.7 million judgment against him. In 2009, Ecuadorean president Rafael Correa told El País that Noboa was a “mogul who does not pay taxes.” In November 2013, Noboa took out an ad in The New York Times to decry the “relentless political persecution” of Ecuador’s tax officials.

File details

The Guayaquil-based tycoon was a beneficial owner of an HSBC client account started in 2006, under the name Fruit Shippers Limited, which listed postal addresses in Bermuda and the United States. Fruit Shippers Limited is the name of a company in which Noboa is the controlling shareholder. The maximum amount in the account in 2006/2007 was $92.1 million.

* * *

Arlette Barbary de Langlade Ricci, Heiress to Nina Ricci fashion and perfume fortune

Arlette Ricci, 73, is the heiress to the fortune of Nina Ricci, the perfume giant and one of France’s oldest fashion houses. French authorities charged Arlette Ricci in 2011 with tax evasion as a result of the French Government’s study of the documents leaked by former HSBC employee Hervé Falciani. According to media reports, police arrested Ricci at her central Paris home in 2011 and held her in custody for 48 hours. Ricci has denied allegations of wrongdoing. An appeals court rejected an attempt by Ricci’s lawyers to have charges against Ricci dropped.

File details

Ricci was connected to three HSBC client accounts. She appeared as beneficial owner of the account Parita Compania Financiera S.A., which held as much as $22.5 million at one point in 2006/2007. Parita Compañia Financiera S.A. is the name of a company based in Panama. Ricci was also once listed as “Attorney A” for the account MYR ASSOCIATES INC., which held $1.9m in 2006/2007. A third account with no money, Positano, did not explicitly state Ricci’s role.

* * *

Belhassen Trabelsi, Former owner of biggest business holding in Tunisia, now in exile

Belhassen Trabelsi became a wealthy businessman in Tunisia during the presidency of his brother-in-law Zine el Abidine Ben Ali (1989-2011). His sister Leila, a former hairdresser, married Ben Ali in 1992 and began placing her 10 siblings in key positions in government and the economy. Belhassen Trabelsi became the chieftain of the Trabelsi clan. He fled his country in 2011 in the midst of a popular revolt that ousted Ben Ali. He and his family members now live in Canada, where they arrived in 2001 on a private jet and where they are seeking refugee status. Trabelsi was convicted for corruption in absentia in 2011 and sentenced to 15 years in prison.

File details

Trabelsi became an HSBC client in 2006. He was listed as beneficial owner of three bank accounts under the name of “Zenade Resources Limited,” that held as much as $2,837,034 in 2006/2007. HSBC records also tied him to the numbered account “48451MH” which listed four bank accounts and held as much as $22,083,647 in 2006/2007. The leaked files do not specify the exact role that Trabelsi had in relation to this numbered account created in 2006.

* * *

Carlos Hank Rhon, Mexican Billionaire

Carlos Hank Rhon is a Mexican billionaire and co-owner of Grupo Financiero Interacciones and Grupo Hermes. For the last 50 years, the Hanks have been considered one of the most influential families in Mexico. Forbes puts his fortune at more than $2 billion and has ranked his family among the 800 wealthiest families in the world. However, the origin of the Hank family fortune (which was begun by Carlos’ father, the well know politician Carlos Hank Gonzalez; Carlos’ son and Carlos’ brother Jorge) has been the subject of investigations, controversy and official scrutiny. In 1999, a preliminary report on the U.S. National Drug Intelligence Center’s “Operation White Tiger” leaked to the press and linked the Hank family to drug trafficking and money laundering for the Tijuana drug cartel. Janet Reno, then attorney general, disavowed the report. Carlos Hank Rhon, who controlled the Laredo National Bank, which was also named in the report, in June 2001 agreed to pay a $40 million fine to the U.S. Federal Reserve for hiding the names of the real owners of the bank. Even before that, Carlos Hank Rhon was investigated for money laundering by Mexican, Swiss and French judges. They were trying to establish the origin of bank transfers — allegedly connected with drug cartels — made to Enrique and Raúl Salinas de Gortari, brothers of former Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari. Carlos Hank Rhon admitted that he made the transfer to Raúl Salinas when he was questioned by Mexican authorities. However, he did not give more details. Enrique Salinas and his wife were acquitted of the money laundering accusations by a French judge in 2006. There are no pending charges against the Hank family.

File details

Carlos Hank Rohn became an HSBC client in 2005. He was the beneficial owner of a client account under the name “Hmex Pte. Ltd.” He later stopped being in that position, as Hank Rohn’s files listed his profile for this account as “stricken .” “Hmex Pte. Ltd.” had 10 bank accounts that together held as much as $158 million in 2006/2007. Hank Rohn was also linked to a numbered client account with one bank account which held as much as $20.1 million in 2006/2007. The leaked files do not specify the exact role he had in relation to this account.

* * *

Christian Michael Slater, Actor

Slater is an American actor who rose to fame in the 1980s and early 1990s with a series of rebel and bad boy roles. He started his career early by starring in a Broadway play at the age of 11. He starred in his first movie in 1985 and gained recognition in 1986 in The Name of the Rose with Sean Connery. In 1989, he starred in the cult movie Heathers alongside Winona Ryder. In 1991, he played opposite Kevin Costner in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Three years later, he played the role of a nosy journalist in Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles with Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt. He played opposite John Travolta in Broken Arrow, a 1996 action movie. For several years after that, he had minor roles in various TV shows and movies but no big screen roles perhaps due to run-ins with the law. Among other incidents, he has been convicted of drunk driving and assault.

File details

Christian Michael Slater was linked to an HSBC client account named “Captain Kirk,” after the Star Trek character. It was opened in 1996 and closed in 1997. The account listed two postal addresses: one in the United States, associated with ERNST & YOUNG LLP, and one in the United Kingdom. The leaked files do not specify the exact role Slater had in relation to the account

* * *

Diane Halfin von FürstenbergFashion designer

Von Fürstenberg is an iconic American fashion designer who is best known for her wrap dresses, which were the height of fashion in the 1970s and are still popular today. She got her last name from her first husband, a German prince, and, although she has remarried, she has continued using his name. In 1974 she presented her first wrap dress and due to its success was featured on the cover of Newsweek two years later. Also in 1974, she launched her line of cosmetics and her first fragrance. In 1985, she created a publishing house in Paris. Since 2004, she has initiated lines of various products including jewelry, beachwear, a fragrance and children’s clothing. She is director of a family foundation and has donated money to a variety of causes.

File details

Diane Von Fürstenberg’s was linked to four HSBC client accounts: two numbered that were opened in 1988 and later closed in 1996 and 2002. There was another account under the name “Thunderbird Investments Ltd,” in which she showed up as beneficial owner, opened in 1994 and closed in 2002 and one account for “Licom Ltd,” where at one point she was listed as “Attorney B.” Two family members were also linked to the client account. Her mother was listed as beneficial owner of the account and then stricken. “Licom Ltd” listed seven bank accounts that together held as much as $6,268,217 in 2006/2007.

* * *

Diego Forlán, Football player

Diego Forlán is one of the world’s top scorers in the recent history of soccer. He scored large numbers of goals for clubs in major national leagues, including Independiente (Argentina), Manchester United (England), Atlético de Madrid (Spain) and Internazionale Milano (Italy). The latest stop of his career is the Japanese team Cerezo Osaka. Forlán is a two-time winner of the European Golden Shoe and also was awarded the Adidas Golden Ball as the best player at the 2010 World Cup. Playing for Uruguay, Forlán won the 2011 Copa América, the 15th title for “La Celeste.”

File details

Diego Forlán became an HSBC client in 2006, while he was playing in Spain for Villarreal. He was connected to two client accounts that together listed four bank accounts. Two of them were associated with the account Rosario Trading Company S.A where he was listed as “Attorney C,” and two were associated to numbered account 12661 ZDF. Together the accounts held as much as $1.4 million in 2006/2007. The leaked files do not specify the exact role that Forlán had in relation to the numbered account.

* * *

Edmond J. Safra, Banker

Descendant of a banking dynasty from Syria, Edmond Safra was a colossus of the finance world who established banks across Brazil, Switzerland and the United States. In 1999 he sold his holdings in Republic New York Corporation and Safra Republic Holdings – both specialized in private banking –to London-based HSBC for $10.3 billion in cash. As a result of that sale, the assets of Safra’s wealthy international clients were transferred to the HSBC private banking branch in Switzerland. Months later, Safra died in a fire at his luxury penthouse in Monaco. He was 67. His American nurse was later convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison for setting the fire, hoping to stage a rescue and appear a hero.

File details

Edmond J. Safra was linked to seven HSBC client accounts, four opened in 1988, two in 1989 and one in 1999. Of these, four closed between 1999 and 2006. Together, the active client accounts by 2006/2007 held as much as $5.3 million. His wife, Lily Safra, was a non-exclusive account holder of one client account, a numbered account set up 26 days after Edmond Safra’s death in 1999, which held as much as $4.6 million in 2006/2007 before closure. It was served by six bank accounts. Besides the numbered account, Lily Safra was also connected to four more accounts of which she was beneficial owner of two. Two of these accounts were also associated with her husband.

* * *

Édouard Stern, Banker

Édouard Stern was a French banker whose violent death in 2004 at the hand of his girlfriend Cécile Brossard inspired several movies and novels. The court case was widely covered in the French and Swiss press. Édouard Stern was head of the bank Stern, a position he took over from his father in 1979. He successfully developed the bank’s business towards market finance and mergers and acquisitions. He sold the bank to a group of Lebanese businessmen in 1984 and then created another bank, under the same name, which he sold to Switzerland’s Societé des Banques Suisses four years later. He became known for his aggressive buy-out strategies which were uncommon in France at the time.

File details

Édouard Stern became an HSBC client in 1999. He was linked as “Attorney C” to a client account under the name of “HF Investments Limited,” which listed eight bank accounts that together held as much as of $16.8 million in 2006/2007. It was later closed. Together with Stern, 13 other clients were also connected to the account.

* * *

Elle MacPherson, Model, entertainer, entrepreneur

Elle MacPherson started her modelling career in 1982 and quickly made the covers of well-known fashion magazines, including Elle. She rose to fame in 1986 when she appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s annual swimsuit issue. In 1989, she made the cover of Time magazine, which gave her the nickname “The Body.” She was one of the first “supermodels” alongside Naomi Campbell and Cindy Crawford. In 1990, she launched her first lingerie line, “Elle MacPherson Intimates,” and has continued designing lingerie since then. In 1994, she launched her own modelling agency and started producing workout videos and calendars. The same year, she starred in the movie Sirens and went on to appear in several other productions. She appeared on the famous U.S. television show Friends several times. In 2010, she re-launched her line of body care and bath products and became the host of Britain and Ireland’s Next Top Model television show.

File details

Elle MacPherson was connected to seven HSBC client accounts. She was beneficial owner of five of them. The other two, under the names of “Elle MacPherson Capital A/C” and “Elle MacPherson income A/C” do not specify the exact role that she had in relation to the accounts. The four client accounts still operative in 2008 were linked to 25 bank accounts that together held as much as $12.2 million in 2006/2007. Three of the accounts for which she was the beneficial owner were closed in 2000, 2001 and 2004.

* * *

Emilio Botín, Banker

Botín ran the family-controlled Banco Santander for almost three decades after succeeding his father as executive chairman in 1986. Santander acquired the British bank Abbey National in 2004, making Santander the most valuable bank in Europe by market capitalization. In 2011 the Botín family paid €200 million in back taxes to the Spanish government, which resulted in the closing of a tax fraud investigation into the Botíns’ accounts with HSBC Private Bank (Suisse). Emilio Botín died in September 2014.

File details

Emilio Botín became an HSBC client in 2003. He was linked to a client account created in 2002 under the name “North Star Overseas Enterprises Inc.” that connected him to five bank accounts. Together they held as much as $82 million in 2006/2007. North Star Overseas Enterprises was the name of a company based in Panama that was later dissolved. The leaked files do not specify the exact role that Botín had in relation to the account. The bank notes show that in 2005 this account was used to sell 50 percent of his shares with Bankinter through the Spanish broker Mercavalor SVB. According to HSBC internal communications, the amount of the sale was around $46 million and was transferred to other financial institutions. The reason for the transfer was a “heritance distribution.”

* * *

Fernando Alonso, Formula One racing driver

He is a two-time winner of the Formula One World Driver’s Championship, in the seasons 2005 and 2006. Alonso took up residence in Switzerland from 2006 to 2010. He moved back to Spain in order to be closer to friends and family. He remarked at the time, “It’s great to go home. I’m happy to pay the money. I’m not poor — just a little bit less rich now.”

File details

Alonso was client of HSBC starting 2002. He was linked to the numbered client account “MAFDAF 851 ” that previously was held in the name “Fernando Alonso Diaz”. It listed four bank accounts that together held as much as $42.3 million in 2006/2007. The leaked files do not specify the exact role that Alonso had in relation to the account.

* * *

Flavio Briatore, Motorsports figure

Briatore is known for his businesses linked to the Formula One World Championship, including Formula FB Business Ltd., a company based in the British Virgin Islands. He has headed Formula One teams for both Renault, which won both the driver’s and constructor’s championships in 2005 and 2006, and for Benetton. Briatore was forced to resign from the ING Renault F1 team over accusations that a team member had staged a crash to provide an advantage for a teammate during the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix. After the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) conducted its own investigation, the federation banned Briatore from FIA-organized events for life in September 2009. The ban was overturned by a French court in January 2010. From 2007 to 2010, he was part-owner and chairman of London’s Queens Park Rangers Football Club but resigned when questions were raised about his takeover. He created the Billionaires Club, which holds a four-day party at the Grand Prix in Monte Carlo and, in his personal life, is known for having dated famous supermodels.

File details

Briatore was linked to 9 HSBC client accounts. He was listed as beneficial owner of at least six of them: Benton Investments Inc., Pinehurst Properties, and numbered account “27361” (which closed in 2005); Adderley Trading Ltd (closed in 2004); and Formula FB Business Ltd and GP2 Ltd which remained active by the time of the leak. Through the nine client accounts, Briatore was connected with 38 bank accounts, which together held as much as $73 million between 2006/2007.

* * *

Gad Elmaleh, Actor, humorist

Gad Elmaleh rose to stardom in France with his one-man shows (his first being in 1997), followed by roles in comedies. He often portrays eccentric characters, some inspired by characters from his country of origin, Morocco, and others from Paris.

File details

Gad Elmaleh was an HSBC client since 2001. He was linked to at least one numbered account. It listed two bank accounts that held as much as $81,247 in 2006/2007. The leaked files do not specify the exact role that Elmaleh had in relation to the account.

* * *

His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians

Born Ktrij Nersessian, he was enthroned in 1999 as the 132nd Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos (meaning “universal leader”) of Echmiadzin, the holy seat of the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church. He has traveled the world visiting the Armenian diaspora and promoting inter-faith dialogue. His travels have taken him to places including Vatican City, the United States, India and Turkey, milestones of his pontifical visits.

File details

HSBC internal files first listed Karekin II among its clients in 2000. He was connected to an account named “His Holiness Karekin II Nersis” that listed one bank account and held as much as $1.1 million in 2006/2007. The leaked files do not specify the exact role that Karekin II had in relation to the account.

* * *

Helmut Newton, Photographer

Helmut Newton is one of the most famous names in fashion photography. His photos have been featured on the cover of Vogue many times and he has photographed models including Kate Moss, Cindy Crawford and Grace Jones. He died in 2004 following injuries from a car accident and is buried in Berlin.

File details

Helmut Newton and a family member were linked to a numbered client account with HSBC, “3144FY,” from 1994 to 1999. The leaked files do not specify the exact role that the Newtons had in relation to the account. Another HSBC client account was opened on January 26, 2004, three days after his death, in the name of the “Newton Helmut Stiftung” (Helmut Newton Foundation), based in Zürich. The maximum amount in this account in 2006/2007 was $35,528.

* * *

Ian Lloyd McKay, Court of Appeal Judge

Sir Ian Lloyd McKay, who died in February 2014 at the age of 84, was called “the best barrister in New Zealand” and sat as a judge on the Court of Appeal of New Zealand from 1991 to 1997. Following his retirement, McKay also served as the president of the Electoral Commission, on the Court of Appeal of Samoa and as the chairperson of a government inquiry. Outside the courtroom, McKay was a serious devotee of bagpipes.

File details

McKay was linked to two client accounts at HSBC. One of them, held no money in 2006/2007, and the other one, listed five bank accounts that together held $31,118 in 2006/2007. The leaked files do not specify the exact role that McKay had in relation to the account.

* * *

Jaime Camil Garza, Mexican Billionaire developer

Jaime Federico Said Camil Garza is a Mexican billionaire who has been a developer and a lobbyist. He has strong connections in the worlds of consulting, politics and entertainment. He is also known for the lavish celebrations he organizes together with his son Jaime, a popular soap opera actor. Camil claims to be a close friend of the Bush presidential family and often shows his expensive properties, yachts and horses to jet-set magazines. But his name has also appeared in the media linked to corruption scandals. The most recent scandal was in 2013 when he was named as the consultant who allegedly paid bribes on behalf of the German company Siemens to Mexico’s national oil company, Petróleos Mexicanos (Pemex). The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission referred only to “a politically-connected business consultant” in a 2008 lawsuit, which Siemens settled by paying $1.6 billion and pleading guilty to a criminal charge. However, Pemex identified Camil as an intermediary in the payments in a separate 2013 lawsuit against Siemens, which was dismissed by U.S. courts. Camil rejected all allegations of wrongdoing in a conversation with ICIJ.

File details

Camil Garza was linked at least two HSBC accounts. One, under the name “Letona Anstalt”, was opened in 2000 and closed in 2001. The other, of which he had beneficial ownership, was a numbered account named “18075TC”, opened in 1994 and closed in 2002. The legal persons linked to Garza’s profile had addresses in Liechtenstein and the British Virgin Islands.

* * *

Johnson Nduya Muthama, Senator and mining executive

Senator Johnson Nduya Muthama was elected in 2013 to represent Machakos County. Previously, he had represented the Kangundo Constituency in the National Assembly of Kenya from 2008 to 2012. A graduate of the Gemological Institute of America, Muthama is a wealthy gemstones magnate. He is the executive chairman of Muthama Gemstones (Kenya) Ltd., a society that operates internationally dealing with mines and precious stones. He was also founder of the Kenya Gemstone Dealers Association.

File details

HSBC files recorded Muthama’s name in connection with the client account “ROCKLAND96”, which was set up in 1996 and closed in 2000. Muthama was also linked to the numbered client account “20443NM” over the same period. Bank files listed eight of his relatives – named Nduya Muthama – also linked to the numbered account. The leaked files do not specify the exact role that he had in relation to the accounts.

* * *

Joseph Paul Fok,  Judge

Fok graduated in law from University College London in 1984 and was in private practice in Hong Kong from 1987 until he became a judge of the Court of First Instance in 2010. The following year he was designated justice of appeal of the Court of Appeal of the High Court. In 2013, Fok was appointed as a permanent judge of the Court of Final Appeal, Hong Kong’s top tribunal.

File details

Fok and his wife were clients of HSBC between 2000 and 2002, when their common client account was closed. They were both beneficial owners of the numbered account “32008LJ”. – His wife was further beneficial owner of a second numbered client account – 31993JG-, also closed in 2002.

* * *

Kerry Packer, Media magnate

Packer was, until his death in 2005, one of Australia’s biggest media tycoons and one of its richest citizens. Outside Australia, he was best known for founding World Series Cricket in 1977 after he failed to win broadcasting rights from the Australian Cricket Board.

File details

Listed as a “press magnate and owner of a newspaper business,” Packer was client of HSBC.He was beneficial owner of a client account under the name of “C.P. International Management Services Limited,” set up in 1994, closed in 2000 and linked to Packer’s Consolidated Press media empire

* * *

King Abdullah II ben al-Hussein, Jordan’s monarch

King Abdullah II ben al Hussein, the fourth Hashemite Monarch of Jordan, assumed the throne in 1999 upon the death of his father King Hussein. According to the monarch’s official website, he is a “41st-generation direct descendant of the Prophet Mohammad.” Jordan’s king is usually described as a Western ally in the Middle East and as including political liberalization and modernization of Jordan in his agenda. “The monarchy is going to change. When my son becomes of age and becomes king, the system will be stabilized and … it will be a Western democracy with a constitutional monarchy,” King Abdullah II told The Atlantic‘s Jeffrey Goldberg in March 2013.

File details

Jordan’s King Abdullah II became an HSBC client in 2006. Abdullah II was connected to a client account created in 2004 under the name of a senior palace official. Three bank accounts were linked to it. The maximum amount in the account in 2006/2007 was $41.8 million. The leaked files do not specify the exact role that King Abdullah II had in relation to the account.

* * *

King Mohammed VI, King of Morocco

Mohammed VI assumed the throne in 1999 after the death of his father, King Hassan II. He is Morocco’s leading businessman and banker, and the royal family dynasty is the largest private stakeholder in the country’s economy. Forbes reported in 2014 that Mohammed VI is Africa’s wealthiest monarch and among Africa’s richest persons, with a fortune estimated at $2.1 billion.

File details

Mohammed VI became an HSBC client in 2006. According to the bank’s internal files, Morocco’s King was linked to numbered client account “45500MK” served by five bank accounts that together held as much as $9.1 million in 2006/2007. Other family members were also HSBC clients. The leaked files do not specify the exact role that Mohammed VI had in relation to the account.

* * *

Lavrentis Lavrentiadis, Entrepreneur

It was 1990 when Lavrentis Lavrentiadis took the wheel of Neochimiki, the chemical production company he inherited from his father. At that time he was 18, and his corporation employed 24 people. Two decades later Lavrentiadis’ companies — not only Neochimiki, but also Alapis (then the biggest pharmaceutical company in Greece) and Proton Bank among many others — were estimated to employ almost 35,000 people. In 2012 he was accused of lending himself and his associates nearly €600 million ($760 million) through Proton Bank. An audit by the Bank of Greece found that more than 40 percent of Proton’s commercial loans in 2010 were made to companies related to Lavrentiadis. He was also accused of fraud, money laundering and membership in a criminal gang. Lavrentiadis was kept in custody for 18 months and was later released under restrictive orders. He — and 42 more defendants in the Proton Bank case — are scheduled to stand trial on March 23, 2015.

File details

Lavrentiadis became an HSBC client in October 1998. He was connected to seven client accounts, all opened between 1998 and 2002 and later closed. Two of them were numbered accounts, “28132KD” and “SARGOS84.” The other five had company names. The seven accounts linked Lavrentiadis to at least 12 bank accounts that together held as much as $4.6 million. The leaked files do not specify the exact role that he had in relation to the accounts.

* * *

Marat Safin, Politician and former tennis player

Safin, who retired from tennis in 2009, briefly reached the top world ranking for singles in late 2000. Among his 15 single titles, he won a couple of Grand Slam tournaments: the 2000 U.S. Open and the 2005 Australian Open. In December 2011, Safin was elected to the Russian Parliament as a member of Vladimir Putin’s United Russia Party, representing the Nizhny Novgorod region.

File details

Throughout his tennis career, Safin was a resident of Monaco, a tax haven. HSBC files show he became a client of the bank in 2005. He was linked to numbered client account “44344 DS” that listed three bank accounts. Together they held as much as $4.87 million in 2006/2007. The leaked files do not specify the exact role that Safin had in relation to the account.

* * *

Philip (Phil) David Charles Collins, Singer, musician

Phil Collins is a British singer, songwriter and musician who rose to fame in the 1970s and 1980s as the voice and leader of British pop and rock music group Genesis. As a composer and drummer he has collaborated with, among others, George Harrison, Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton and Peter Gabriel, whom he succeeded as lead singer of Genesis in 1975. He is the recipient of seven Grammy Awards, one Academy Award and two Golden Globes.

File details

Phil Collins was the part beneficial owner of a profile account at HSBC that bore his name and which was opened in 2000. Seven bank accounts were listed under Collins’ shared account, for which the maximum amount in 2006/2007 was $272,191.

* * *

Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud, Diplomat

Prince Bandar bin Sultan is a member of the House of Saud and was Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the United States from 1983 to 2005. Since 2005, he has been secretary general of the Saudi National Security Council. In addition, he was director of the Saudi Intelligence Agency from 2012 to 2014. In July 2014, he was designated as King Abdullah’s advisor and special envoy. Prince Bandar negotiated, together with Margaret Thatcher, the 1985 Al Yamamah deal, a massive arms sale by the United Kingdom to Saudi Arabia worth $80 billion. Arms manufacturer BAE Systems (formerly British Aerospace) has been accused of funneling secret disbursements into a couple of Saudi embassy accounts in Washington over several years. In 2007 the BBC’s investigative program Panorama reported that BAE Systems “paid hundreds of millions of pounds to the ex-Saudi ambassador to the U.S.”

File details

HSBC records show Prince Bandar, became an HSBC client in June 1999. He was connected to four client accounts. He was the beneficial owner of one named “Kafinvest Operating Limited” opened in 2005. The client account listed three bank accounts that together held as much as $15.6 million in 2006/2007. Of the other three client accounts, two were closed in 2000 and the third reported a balance of zero.

* * *

Rachid Mohamed Rachid, Minister of Trade and Industry and corporate executive

Rachid Mohamed Rachid was appointed Egypt’s minister of trade and industry in 2004. He kept his post until he fled Cairo shortly after the uprising that ousted President Hosni Mubarak began in early 2011. Before entering the cabinet, he played prominent corporate roles in international business. Rachid served as president of Unilever for North Africa, the Middle East, and Turkey and was a member of the board of directors of HSBC Egypt. In three trials held in Egypt during 2011 and 2014, the former minister was convicted in absentia and sentenced to a total of 35 years in prison and ordered to pay at least $330 million for illegal profiteering and squandering public funds. According to an Egyptian media report, local authorities are “investigating Rachid’s accounts since he fled the country and have reportedly sought Interpol intervention in apprehending both him and his daughter abroad.” In 2013, Rachid settled two other corruption charges by paying a fine of around $2.2 million to Egyptian authorities.

File details

Listed as “President of Unilever for MENA + Turkey,” Rachid Mohamed Rachid became an HSBC client in 2003. He was beneficial owner of a client account under the name “Lexington Investments Limited” that listed 10 bank accounts. Together they held as much as $31 million in 2006/2007.

* * *

Ralph Sonnenberg, Manufacturing executive

Ralph Sonnenberg is Chairman and CEO of the Hunter Douglas Group, a Dutch multinational that manufactures window coverings and architectural products. He has been CEO since 1971. In 2010 Ralph Sonnenberg was the fifth richest man in the Netherlands. His fortune is estimated at $1.6 billion.

File details

Ralph Sonnenberg became an HSBC client in 1996. He was linked to a client account bearing his name, formerly numbered account “5562” until 2000. The account held as much as $13.3 million in 2006/2007 and listed 10 bank accounts. Sonnenberg was registered as “without profession (manage the fortune of the family)” in the HSBC leaked files. The leaked files do not specify the exact role that he had in relation to the account. Hunter Douglas of which he is CEO also had a client account under the name “Hunter Douglas International N.V.” that held as much as $3.3 million in 2006/2007.

* * *

Roger Boka, Tobacco magnate

Roger Boka, who died in 1999, owned one of Africa’s biggest tobacco trading floors. Boka was “the first black Zimbabwean to own a private plane and drive a Rolls Royce” and one of the first black Zimbabweans to own a bank. At the time of his death, “Boka was wanted for questioning over the alleged illegal transfer abroad of $25 million from his collapsed United Merchant Bank,” according to the Associated Press, which also described him as “a leading African black empowerment advocate.”

File details

Boka was an HSBC client and was linked to a client account under his name. HSBC files list him as president of Boka Group that dealt with financial services, gold mining and tobacco export. The leaked files do not specify the exact role that he had in relation to the account.

* * *

Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, Bahrain’s Crown Prince

In 1999, Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa was sworn in as crown prince and appointed Bahrain’s Defense Force commander-in-chief. He was designated deputy prime minister in 2013 by his father King Hamad.

File details

HSBC internal records list Prince Salman as client since 2001. HSBC files show that he was beneficial owner of two client accounts: “Vision Macro Fund Ltd.” of which he had an 11 percent stake and “Vision Arbitrage Fund Ltd.” of which he had a 9 percent stake. The two client accounts linked him to at least 10 bank accounts that together held as much as $20.9 million in 2006/2007. Of this, his balance was of $2.2 million.

* * *

Sultan Qaboos Bin Said, Sultan of Oman

Sultan Qaboos bin Said succeeded his father, Said bin Taimur, after removing him from power in a nearly bloodless coup in 1970. According to The Economist, the sultan “has ruled the Gulf state as an absolute monarch, albeit a benevolent one who has both unified and modernized Oman.” Sultan Qaboos, in his mid-70s, officially keeps Oman neutral, having contacts with almost every country, including Iran, while allied with the West. Oman supported the United States during the 1991 Gulf War and the 2003 Iraq invasion. Among his many properties, Sultan Qaboos is the owner of at least five super yachts.

File details

Sultan Qaboos became an HSBC client in 1974. He was linked to four client accounts that listed 10 bank accounts. Together they held as much as $44.6 million in 2006/2007. Of the four client accounts, two had his name, one was a numbered account, and the other one was under the name of “The Yacht Squadron Oman Limited” of which he was beneficial owner. The leaked files do not specify the exact role that Sultan Qaboos had in relation to the other three accounts.

* * *

Sultanah Kalsom, Wife of Malaysian royalty

Sultanah Kalsom, 63, is the second wife of Malaysian royalty, Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah Al-Musta’in Billah Ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Abu Bakar Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mu’adzam Shah. Kalsom became the Sultanah, wife of the sultan of Pahang, one of Malaysia’s nine hereditary states, in 1992 . Sultanah Kalsom is involved in charitable activities across Malaysia, including those combating domestic violence and promoting childhood development and female empowerment. Sultanah Kalsom is also the patron of a “Tiger Ball” that raises money for protecting endangered tigers across Asia.

File details

Sultanah Kalsom, listed by HSBC as a “housewife,” was connected to a numbered client account under the name “3678TE” from September 1994 to November 1997. The leaked files do not specify the exact role that she had in relation to the account.

* * *

The Flick Family, Industrialists, FCF: art collector

The Flick family is a German family which formerly held shares in many German industrial companies, including coal and steel producers and the car manufacturer Daimler. In 1947 Friedrich Flick was convicted of war crimes at an Allied war tribunal and spent three years in prison. In 1983 it was revealed that the family had bribed politicians to reduce its taxes, and, two years later, Flick’s son Friedrich Karl Flick sold the majority of the holdings to Deutsche Bank for a reported $2.5 billion. Friedrich Karl Flick died in 2006. His fortune was estimated at $8.6 billion at the time. His nephew, Friedrich Christian Flick, Friedrick Flick’s grandson, is an art collector with German-Swiss nationality.

File details

Friedrich Christian Flick, grandson of Friedrich Flick who built the family fortune, was listed as beneficial owner of three client accounts with HSBC under the names of “Fakir Anstalt” reported as closed in 2004, “Mexiko Investment Ltd” and “Jakita Corporation”. Together they listed 14 different bank accounts that held as much as $87 million in 2006/2007. Barbara Flick, another member of the family, was also listed at one point as beneficial owner of the three client accounts.

* * *

Timur Kuanyshev, Oil tycoon

Kuanyshev has made investments in Kazakhstan, Russia and worldwide, especially in the energy sector, but also in construction, agriculture and consumer goods. In 1993, customs officials at the Moscow Domodedovo airport detained four citizens of Kazakhstan, including Timur Kuanyshey and his wife, who were accused of illegally concealing $1 million in cash in their underwear but who were never charged. Kuanyshey and his wife Alfiya are patrons of Prince Charles’ Foundation for Children & the Arts and supporters of the London Royal Opera House. They were invited to the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011.

File details

Kuanyshev became client of HSBC in 2004. He was beneficial owner of two client accounts served by 12 bank accounts. Together they held as much as $10.2 million in 2006/2007. Kuanyshev was also linked to the numbered client account “34231 AMV” for which the maximum amount in 2006/2007 was $2.079 million. His wife, Alfiya Kuanysheva was beneficial owner of at least one of the accounts.

* * *

Valentino Garavani, Fashion designer

Internationally known by his first name, Valentino was the favorite designer of many of the world’s most famous women. For example, he designed the dress that Jacqueline Kennedy wore when she married Aristotle Onassis. He retired from the fashion catwalks in 2008 after 45 years in fashion.

File details

Valentino became client of HSBC in 2000. The leaked files revealed the Italian designer was connected to at least nine bank accounts through a numbered client account labelled “3326 CR,” created in 2001, that held as much as $108.4 million in 2006/2007. He was listed as “Attorney A” and “beneficial owner” of the account. Garavani was part beneficial owner of two other client accounts opened in 2000 and closed in 2004: Dibag Fashion Developments NV Rub VG and Dibag Fashion Developments NV Rub GG.

* * *

Valentino Rossi, Professional motorcycle rider

Rossi is a multiple MotoGP World Champion. He is one of the most successful motorcyclists ever, with nine Grand Prix World Championships. In 2007, Italian authorities investigated Rossi for suspected tax evasion based on his decision to live in London in 2000. In 2008, Rossi and the tax authorities said they had reached an agreement to settle the case, requiring the motorcyclist to pay €19 million ($27.6 million).
File details

Valentino Rossi became client of HSBC in 2003. He held a client account named “Kikiki 62” that listed two bank accounts. Together they held as much as $23.9 million in 2006/2007.

* * *

Needless to say, for those whose names appear above, or in the yet undisclosed remainder of some 100,000 clients of HSBC, first of all our condolences, and second: prepare for some rather extensive tax audits in your native country. That, or worse.

February 9, 2015 6:41 pm

Leaked HSBC files damage bank and the concept of banking secrecy

Martin Arnold, Banking Editor

Soon after Stuart Gulliver became chief executive of HSBC at the start of 2011 he hung a “for sale” sign on the Swiss private bank it had owned since completing the acquisition of a rival more than a decade earlier.

Mr Gulliver later abandoned the sale process after a lukewarm response from potential buyers. Yet given the furore produced by this week’s revelations about what had been going on at HSBC’s Swiss private bank at the time, it is easy to understand why he was eager to exit the business.

A vast cache of leaked bank account documents for clients of HSBC’s Swiss private bank between 2005 and 2007 has found its way to the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and other news organisations.

In total, there are 60,000 leaked files, some of which provide details of how the bank was aware of tax-avoidance behaviour and wrongdoing by some clients. The total value held in the bank accounts exceeds $100bn for more than 100,000 wealthy clients around the world.

News organisations published on Monday damaging revelations about widespread tax-avoidance practices in HSBC’s Swiss operation at the time, prompting outcry from some quarters about why governments — who have had these documents for almost five years — have not done more to prosecute individuals where appropriate.

“This is extremely damaging both for the bank and for the concept of banking secrecy,” says a rival Swiss banker, speaking on condition of anonymity. “HSBC’s franchise was already pretty damaged here, which is why they tried to sell it a few years ago.”

The reports allege that HSBC’s Swiss private bank provided large, untraceable bricks of cash in foreign currencies to clients and colluded with them to conceal “black” accounts from tax authorities.

The bank allegedly colluded with clients to conceal evidence of their Swiss bank accounts from relevant tax authorities. Code names including Captain Kirk, Painter and Capitaine Haddock were used to disguise clients’ identities. It also “aggressively marketed” schemes likely to enable wealthy European clients to avoid taxes.

France, Belgium and Argentina have already launched formal investigations into allegations that HSBC helped citizens of those countries to hide undeclared money from the taxman in accounts at its Swiss private bank. In the UK, investigations by the HMRC have resulted in about £135m of unpaid tax, interest and penalties being handed over by the British citizens involved, only one of whom — Michael Shanly, a property developer — has been prosecuted for tax evasion.

HSBC said many private banks at the time, including its own Swiss operation, had “a number of clients that may not have been fully compliant with their applicable tax obligations. We acknowledge and are accountable for past compliance and control failures”.

The bank said: “We have taken significant steps over the past several years to implement reforms and exit clients who do not meet strict new HSBC standards.” It added that its private bank client base had shrunk 70 per cent in the past decade.

It also said the acquisition of Republic National Bank of New York and Safra Republic Holdings in 1999 — accounting for the bulk of its Swiss private bank — brought with it “a very different client base and had a significantly different culture to HSBC”.

“The business acquired was not fully integrated into HSBC, allowing different cultures and standards to persist,” the bank said. “With hindsight, it’s clear that too many small and high risk accounts were maintained and the business was stretched over more than 150 geographical markets.”

HSBC is one of several Swiss banks still being investigated by the US Department of Justice for allegedly helping American citizens to evade taxes. UBS and Credit Suisse have recently settled with the DoJ, paying fines of $780m and $2.6bn respectively.

Switzerland has also signed agreements with several European countries to allow clients of Swiss banks to declare money that had previously been hidden from tax authorities in return for paying the tax they owe, interest and potential fines.

Swiss bankers say the industry has cleaned up its act. “The Swiss and international private banking industry has pursued higher international compliance standards [for] some years now,” says Ray Soudah at Millenium Associates, a Swiss consultancy.

“This is not a good thing for the entire Swiss financial centre — that is clear,” says Sindy Werner at the Swiss Bankers Association, adding: “It is very important to say that today the Swiss banks have really changed.”

Mr Gulliver has stressed the importance of keeping HSBC out of trouble since he took over. The bank paid almost $2bn in fines and signed a five-year deferred prosecution agreement with US authorities in December 2012 after admitting that it processed drug trafficking proceeds through Mexico and transmitted funds from sanctioned countries including Iran.

The agreement puts it at risk of a criminal conviction and potential loss of its crucial US banking licence if it commits another crime in that period. The tax-dodging allegations relate to actions that happened before the deal, so are unlikely to affect it.

But there are signs that HSBC has already been dismantling its troublesome private bank, which produced barely 3 per cent of the group’s $12.3bn of total pre-tax profits in the first half of 2014.

Krishna Patel, HSBC’s global head of private banking, resigned in December 2012, while Alexandre Zeller, the head of global private banking for Europe, Middle East and Africa, also left the bank in February of that year.

HSBC recently pulled out of the stately Geneva lakefront building where it once received VIP clients. The offices at 37 Quai Wilson are now up for lease in a sign of the depth of change hitting its Swiss operations.

Last year, it sold $12.5bn of Swiss private banking assets to Liechtenstein’s LGT Group, cutting its total assets by 15 per cent. In recent months, rival bankers have started to speculate that Mr Gulliver will once again look for a full exit.


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