HSBC denies involvement in money laundering

HSBC, a London-based multinational bank, has outright denied its alleged involvement in helping any clients to siphon off money from Bangladesh through the bank to evade tax.

The bank official ruled out the allegation at a meeting  with the Bangladesh Bank officials held at the central bank headquarters in the city yesterday.

The Bangladesh Bank (BB) had earlier summoned officials of HSBC over recent reports in global media alleging the bank’s involvement in helping clients to evade taxes.

A four-member team-led by CAMLCO (chief anti money laundering compliance officer) of HSBC bank met the Bangladesh Bank officials to clarify its position over the recent money laundering issue reported in different global media.

“The team informed us that it has no information neither on tax evasion nor money laundering by any Bangladeshi nationals through any branch of HSBC,” said Mahfuzur Rahman, executive director of Bangladesh Bank.

He also informed that the central bank would soon send a delegation to the HSBC office in Dhaka to inquire about the allegation.

He also clarified that the Swiss Leaks report did not mention that the alleged money was deposited in HSBC’s Swiss private Bank from Bangladesh.

“However, the report only mentioned about some Bangladeshi nationals who might be non-residential and deposited the money from any other countries,” he opined.

The British banking giant allegedly operated a giant tax evasion scheme via its Swiss subsidiary, HSBC Private Bank (Suisse), according to the Swiss Leaked report.

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$13m has been siphoned off from Bangladesh by 16 clients of HSBC, 31 percent of whom are bearing the Bangladeshi nationality or passports. However, the report did not mention the name of the individuals who had the amount with the HSBC Private Bank (Suisse).

Media leaks on HSBC accounts held in Switzerland “are only the tip of the iceberg,” Herve Falciani, the former HSBC employee who supplied information.