A Spanish court is probing seven former executives of HSBC's private Swiss bank on suspicion of money laundering following an investigation of documents in the 'Swissleaks' scandal on bank-supported tax evasion, legal sources have said.
In an order dated January but not published until now, the National High Court named seven persons under suspicion of "persistent money laundering and criminal association" who in 2006 and 2007 held senior positions at the Swiss subsidiary of HSBC.
According to a court document released on Thursday, the suspects include two former heads of HSBC private banking operations, Christopher Meares and Clive Bannister. HSBC declined to comment.
At the heart of the Spanish case are accusations that HSBC helped Spanish clients to transfer abroad and later repatriate funds “with the intention of hiding them from the public treasury”, the High Court said.
The scandal came to light after former HSBC IT expert Hervé Falciani took files from the bank’s Swiss operation in 2008. They contained details of about 30,000 secret account holders and were seized by the French, then shared with other countries as part of a tax crackdown.
The "Swissleaks" scandal has triggered the opening of proceedings in France, Spain, Belgium and Argentina.
According to the order, the Spanish court suspects a possible "collaboration" by HSBC in the transfer and repatriation of funds deposited in the Swiss accounts with "the intention to conceal them from the Spanish treasury".
HSBC is one of a number of banks considering relocating jobs to the continent after the Brexit vote, having said that 1,000 jobs may have to move from London to Paris over the next two years depending on the outcome of negotiations.
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