HSBC Sheltered $100 Billion Linked To Dictators, Arms Dealers

An investigative probe into the inner workings of HSBC Holdings PLC's private Swiss bank unit has revealed that the bank profited from dealings with royalty, arms dealers, entertainers, blood-diamond traffickers through accounts dated up to 2007. The leaked files, obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, revealed that more than $100 billion such accounts were shielded and often structured to avoid taxes. "The leaked account records show some clients making trips to Geneva to withdraw large wads of cash, sometimes in used notes. The files also document huge sums of money controlled by dealers in diamonds who are known to have operated in war zones and sold gemstones to finance insurgencies that caused untold deaths," according to the report, which was published on the ICIJ's website. Shares of HSBC Holdings were down more than 1% in London. HSBC gave a final response to ICIJ last month after being informed of the full extent of the report. "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," the bank said.

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