Bangladesh Bank summons HSBC officials over money laundering reports
Bangladesh central bank has summoned local HSBC officials over recent reports in global media alleging the bank’s involvement in helping clients to evade taxes.
The multinational bank’s Dhaka officials have been asked to come to the Bangladesh Bank (BB) on Thursday.
“Recent media reports claim that a lot of people siphoned money out of the country through HSBC Bank to evade tax. That’s why we have requested the bank’s officials to come in and clarify,” BB Financial Intelligence Unit deputy chief M Mahfuzur Rahman told bdnews24.com.
Global media outlets including French newspaper Le Monde, Britain’s The Guardian and the BBC published reports about HSBC’s involvement in helping clients to dodge taxes and siphon out money.
The Guardian, along with other news outlets, cited documents obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) from Le Monde.
The ICIJ documents say that until 2006, US $13 million has been siphoned off from Bangladesh by 16 clients of HSBC.
Among the 17 bank accounts used for laundering the money, 10 were accounts maintained by individuals and the rest were offshore companies’. Five of the individual accounts were maintained by Bangladesh passport-holders.
The identities of the clients are yet to be known. But one of them had laundered around $4.4 million.
According to media reports, 34 Bangladesh nationals opened accounts with the HSBC Private Bank in Switzerland between 1985 and 2006. Of them, 31 are now still active.
HSBC had said earlier that its Swiss arm—HSBC Private Bank—had not been fully integrated into HSBC after its purchase in 1999, allowing “significantly lower” standards of compliance and due diligence to persist.
It said the Swiss private banking industry, long known for its secrecy, operated differently in the past and this may have resulted in HSBC having had “a number of clients that may not have been fully compliant with their applicable tax obligations.”
The data was supplied by Herve Falciani, a former IT employee of HSBC’s Swiss private bank.
HSBC said Falciani downloaded details of accounts and clients at the end of 2006 and early 2007. French authorities have obtained data on thousands of the customers and shared them with tax authorities.
New Delhi has chased up these details and released a list of 60 Indians who have used the HSBC to park billions in Europe.