21 Aug 2019
A former chief executive of HSBC’s Swiss unit has pleaded guilty to helping wealthy clients hide at least €1.6 million.
AFP recently reported that Peter Braunwalder was fined $560,000 and received a one-year suspended sentence in France for his role in helping HSBC’s clients stash their cash.
The Swiss Leaks scandal, exposed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, revealed how over €600 million was kept by Maltese account holders in HSBC’s Geneva branch. Among the high-profile local clients were former Nationalist ministers Ninu Zammit and Michael Falzon.
Mr Zammit had hid $3.2 million in his account while Mr Falzon secreted away €465,000.
Both men had kept their Swiss accounts hidden while in government, failing to declare the holdings in annual ministerial asset declarations.
Back in 2015, when the scandal first broke, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat had vowed to come down hard on anyone who hid their money overseas.
Dr Muscat had also said the government would publish a list of all politically-exposed account holders found on the Swiss Leaks list. It would later emerge that his chief of staff, Keith Schembri, had his own Swiss account, albeit with a different bank, Credit Suisse.
Last year, Finance Minister Edward Scicluna told Parliament that contrary to the Prime Minister’s pledge, the Swiss Leaks list could not be published.
A total of €12 million in lost tax revenues was recovered by the Maltese tax authorities thanks to the data leak.
By Jacob Borg, Times of Malta, 19 August 2019
Read more at Times of Malta
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