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.