Swiss Leaks
An ICIJ Investigation

Swiss Leaks: Murky Cash Sheltered by Bank Secrecy

How one of the world’s largest banks helped shelter millions in accounts linked to arms dealers, dictators and tax evaders

  • HSBC Private Bank (Suisse) continued to offer services to clients who had been unfavorably named by the United Nations, in court documents and in the media as connected to arms trafficking, blood diamonds and bribery.
  • HSBC served those close to discredited regimes such as that of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, former Tunisian president Ben Ali and current Syrian ruler Bashar al-Assad.
  • Clients who held HSBC bank accounts in Switzerland include former and current politicians from Britain, Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Kenya, Romania, India, Liechtenstein, Mexico, Lebanon, Tunisia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Paraguay, Djibouti, Senegal, Philippines and Algeria.
  • The bank repeatedly reassured clients that it would not disclose details of accounts to national authorities, even if evidence suggested that the accounts were undeclared to tax authorities in the client’s home country. Bank employees also discussed with clients a range of measures that would ultimately allow clients to avoid paying taxes in their home countries. This included holding accounts in the name of offshore companies to avoid the European Savings Directive, a 2005 Europe-wide rule aimed at tackling tax evasion through the exchange of bank information.
HSBC faced increased scrutiny from regulators and policymakers following ICIJ's Swiss Leaks investigation in February
60,000 LEAKED FILES

Explore the Swiss Leaks Data

Explore the Swiss Leaks data to see how different countries compare, and find out more about some of the clients of the bank.

By Matthew Caruana Galizia
Feb 08, 2015

Support independent journalism

ICIJ’s investigations are supported by readers like you. If you believe journalism can help bring about positive change, join our ICIJ Insiders community now!

ICIJ is dedicated to ensuring all reports we publish are accurate. If you believe you have found an inaccuracy let us know.