Swiss prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation against HSBC Private Bank, and raided the bank’s Geneva offices for evidence as it probes allegations of “aggravated money-laundering.”
Citing “recent public revelations” about HSBC’s activities in Switzerland, the prosecutor’s office warned that the investigation could extend to individual employees at the bank as it probes whether adequate measures were put in place to prevent criminal activity.
Attorney general Olivier Jornot and first prosecutor Yves Bertossa led the search of HSBC’s Geneva headquarters this morning, along with plain clothes investigators and financial analysts, according to ICIJ’s media partner Le Temps. The bank’s compliance department offices were also searched.
“I decided, following information made public about HSBC bank, to open a criminal investigation and to verify this information. The goal of this investigation is to verify that the information made public is well-founded and if there are, in fact, allegations that can be made against the bank or against people – be they collaborators or clients,” Jornot told Swiss media. “The police raid is ongoing and will probably last the whole day.”
The raid comes amid growing scrutiny of the bank following ICIJ’s Swiss Leaks investigation. Together with more than 140 journalists from more than 50 media outlets, ICIJ analyzed a series of leaked files based on information taken from HSBC’s Swiss branch and handed to French authorities by former bank employee and IT specialist Hervé Falciani.