The HSBC Private Bank continue to offer services to clients that have been blacklisted by the United Nations, including people related to arms trafficking, blood diamonds, and bribery, says the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) in the Panama Papers.

Infamous leaders who had accounts in the HSBC include the former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, former Tunisian president Ben Ali and current Syrian ruler Bashar al-Assad. A report also includes documents about current politicians from Britain, Russia, India, Paraguay, Algeria, Lebanon, and others.

The files list nearly 15,600 paper companies that banks set up for clients who want keep their finances under wraps, including thousands created by international giants UBS and HSBC. Credit: ICIJ/HuffPost

It appears that the bank headquartered in London has firmly stated to clients that details about their accounts won’t be provided to  national authorities, even if there is evidence about tax evasion related to their accounts.

Moreover, bank employees have explained to clients how to achieve tax evasion in their home countries, said the ICIJ in a press release published Monday, alongside 2.6 terabytes of data with nearly 40 years of records. The leak includes information about more than 210,000 companies, world leaders, rich people featured in Forbes, and movie stars such as Jackie Chan, which have been related to tax evasion.

The bank, which is part of an ultra-secret private banking system, said to the ICIJ international team of reporters that it has taken “significant steps” over the last years to ban clients who have not met “strict new HSBC standards”, including those related to tax avoidance.

“We acknowledge that the compliance culture and standards of due diligence in HSBC’s Swiss private bank, as well as the industry in general, were significantly lower than they are today.” Said the HSBC last month to ICIJ reporters, after being informed about the new leaks.

The worldwide banking institution added that it has reduced its client base by almost 70 percent since it changed its business strategy. Analysts from the ICIJ suggest that $7.6 trillion are declared in “overseas tax havens”.

HSBC requested the destruction of all documents: they show which is the favorite banking institution of diamond dealers and powerful politicians

Secret documents have also unveiled details about how the HSBC has been involved in transactions with dealers who provide mortar bombs to child soldiers in Africa, and traffickers in blood diamonds, which are mined in war zones and sold to finance wars. Exact sums of money managed by dealers in diamonds will be published as soon as the documents are analyzed by our team of reporters.

“The offshore industry is a major threat to our democratic institutions and our basic social contract. Financial opacity is one of the key drivers of rising global inequality. It allows a large fraction of top income and top wealth groups to pay negligible tax rates.” Said French economist Thomas Piketty to the ICIJ.

Documents unmasking the HSBC were obtained by the ICIJ thanks to the French newspaper Le Monde. Other figures related to tax evasion include soccer and tennis players, Hollywood actors, politicians and executives.

The ICIJ said that when the HSBC was informed about the leaks, the bank requested the destruction of the documents. However, the team of journalists insisted on the publication. HSBC is spread across more than 70 nations on all continents.

The Panama papers are a collaboration obtained by more than 140 journalists from 45 countries, including reporters from the BBC, The Guardian, Le Monde, 60 minutes, and others.

More details about people involved in the HSBC case will be analyzed by Pulse Headlines in the coming days.

Source: ICIJ