Swiss prosecutor drops HSBC money laundering probe without criminal charge

 
Catherine Neilan
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HSBC Private Bank: The Swiss arm is still being investigated over tax evasion (Source: Getty)
HSBC can start to breathe easily - at least when it comes to the money laundering claims.
Swiss prosecutors have dropped their investigation into its private bank after reaching a financial settlement that carries no admission of guilt.
HSBC has agreed to pay SF40m (£27.8m) to the Genevan authorities investigating alleged money laundering at its private bank, without admitting guilt. As a result the investigation has been formally closed.
HSBC said in a statement that it had “fully co-operated” with the investigation and would not face criminal charges.
"The investigation found that neither the Bank nor its employees are suspected of any current criminal offences," it added.
"HSBC Private Bank (Suisse) SA has acknowledged that the compliance culture and standards of due diligence in place in the Bank in the past were not as robust as they are today.
"In recent years the Bank has undergone a radical transformation. It has implemented numerous initiatives designed to prevent its banking services being used to evade taxes or launder money. The strategic repositioning has also strengthened the bank’s focus on core markets and reduced its client base by almost 70 per cent, from about 30,000 accounts in 2007 to some 10,000 in 2014.
"The Geneva prosecutor acknowledges the progress the bank has made in recent years, including the improvements in its compliance function, internal processes and technology."
HSBC is still being investigated in a number of territories over allegations of tax evasion, including in the US, France, Belgium and Argentina.
Here in the UK, bosses Stuart Gulliver and Douglas Flint were grilled by MPs, apologising for “unacceptable” practices.
Still, this is at least, one less thing keeping the bank's bosses up at night.

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