news Monday, March 09, 2015 - 05:30

The News Minute| Geneva| February 18, 2014| 11.00 pm IST

The search and seize operations at the HSBC bank in Geneva are the direct result of information that has been made available by #Swissleaks, the office of the Public Prosecutor of the Canton of Geneva told The News Minute (TNM).

“We looked at the various reports in the media, we analysed the information and it became clear to us that the leaks called for an official enquiry and robust investigation,” Henri Della Casa, spokesperson for the prosecutor’s office said. “We are talking about crime here – crimes related to drug trafficking,” he added. 

The investigation comes some seven years after Hervé Falciani an HSBC systems analyst walked out of the bank with over 100GB of data on privileged clients, accounts and other incriminating details. “What changed between 2008 and now is SwissLeaks – the information they have gathered and shared is the result of serious and cautious work,” Della Casa said.

Next steps are unclear at time of writing and will be known when the raids are completed. Della Casa said the likelihood of the scope the investigations expanding could be ruled out. It is also likely that people will be called in for questioning as some of the documents raise very serious issues, he added. In a press release this morning, the prosecutor’s office said the investigations could also spread to individuals. 

Earlier this month the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) – a multi-country multi-media exercise – placed on public record information from HSBC in Geneva detailing the active participation of bank employees in abetting and ignoring money laundering from drug cartels and arms dealers. Journalists in the consortium (Indian Express in India) from around the world have been writing in detail about how one of the world’s largest banks worked with clients to hide, launder or round-trip their money and assets. Along with India, authorities in France, Argentina, Spain and United Kingdom (UK) to name a few, are looking into the matter.

There are 1,195 names connected to India and Indians and not all of them are dubious accounts. Federal authorities in Switzerland have maintained that the information is stolen and there is an arrest warrant out for the whistleblower. In a separation of powers and jurisdiction in Switzerland’s federal system, cantons (states) have their own governments. Della Rosa said while Geneva was aware of the Falciani list it was not in possession of it and #SwissLeaks changed that. Federal authorities TNM spoke to say the Geneva raids are currently a cantonal matter and they have no comment.

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