UPDATED: February 28, 2011 – Tremendous interest in this article by Bajans
Swiss Regulator “symbolically” reprimands HSBC over data theft.
Barbados Government continues to ignore HSBC Private Bank Money Laundering & Tax Haven Scandal
We are again seeing tremendous interest in this Barbados Free Press article with thousands of hits coming from all over the world. It turns out that the Swiss financial regulator has just taken a piece out of the HSBC hide – well, at least made a “symbolic” reprimand according to the news.
But it’s really all for show folks. Some of the laundered money came through Barbados, but no investigations or prosecutions will be done by Barbados. Too right!
First Update: October 2, 2010…
As the workweek winds down, Friday is usually a slower day at Barbados Free Press in terms of visitors. That didn’t seem to matter yesterday though when almost 5,000 Barbadians took the time to click upon and read this article fully – showing the tremendous interest that voters still have in knowing where their money went over the last 20 years.
During the 2007 election campaign and continuing for the first 3 months after winning, the DLP and David Thompson promised to address the issue of BLP government corruption and offshore money transfers by BLP government officials and friends. That promise died about April of 2008 and became a total non-subject by 2009 as the DLP piggies at the trough decided that they had better not throw any stones while living in glass houses themselves.
The high Bajan readership on this article shows that voters haven’t forgotten the issue of their tax dollars spirited away to offshore accounts.
A little bit of HSBC information released before the next election could be an important event in Bajan politics, given what the mood of the public will be after a few more years of financial downturn and unemployment.
Here’s our original article that is drawing so much interest from people living in Barbados…
Rogue employee exposes 80,000+ HSBC Private Bank clients. How many from Barbados?
A list of 80,000+ foreign client Swiss bank accounts is in the hands of the French government – who are sharing the take with tax authorities in other countries. It appears that 99% of the offshore accounts are unreported to the clients’ home countries.
“There were 8,000 accounts on the list that belonged to French citizens, and only two accounts had been declared for tax purposes.” *
“More than 1,700 private offshore bank accounts belonging to Canadians turned up on a list of secret accounts in Switzerland.” *
In 2006, Herve Falciani, head of computer security at HSBC, started downloading (read “stealing”) the detailed data of 80,000 foreign clients of HSBC’s Private Bank in Geneva, Switzerland. These are serious accounts that take at least US$500,000 to open, but that’s the lowest.
“We’re talking billions of dollars held in secret Swiss accounts – and you know that some of that must have come through Bridgetown.”
Falciani (photo above) says he was concerned that HSBC was knowingly allowing its clients to hide money and evade taxes and other laws in their home countries. (Well duh! That’s what made the Swiss banking industry, and frankly, our offshore banking industry too.)
He says his concern was to stop the lawbreaking, but that reads a little shallow because the Germans say he tried to sell the information for millions to them and other tax authorities.
In 2008 when the Swiss police got wind of it and scheduled an interview, Falciani fled to his father’s home in France with the data. He didn’t have it for much longer. Shortly after he arrived the French police raided the home and seized “the list”. French authorities have been sharing the take.
The exposure of the list sent the Swiss banking industry into heart attack mode. This was always the fear, the worst case scenario that one employee could walk out the door with a memory stick containing everything.
It happened again in 2009 in Liechtenstein and here and there on a smaller scale – but the 80,000+ clients from HSBC Private Banking Switzerland is the motherlode.
Did Barbados authorities ask France for information?
In most countries the tax authorities jumped at the opportunity, picked up the phone and called France. Has Barbados done so? If so, we’d be surprised. But no worries about that happening: while we were researching this article a little birdie contacted us to confirm that Barbados never contacted the French authorities about the list.
The BLP and the DLP have a gentleman’s agreement about secret offshore accounts and other issues of corruption. It doesn’t exist and it can’t exist because on this rock EVERYBODY lives in a glass house. Therefore David Thompson will hold up a “political donation” cheque made out to former Prime Minister Owen Arthur and deposited into Arthur’s personal bank account – but it’s all show because Thompson and the DLP aren’t about to take it further. Too dangerous for everybody.
“Barbados is an offshore banking centre itself and understandably there is great reluctance to commence inquiries that might lead back home to certain high profile individuals.”
… information from “a little birdie” to Barbados Free Press.
BFP’s little birdie source says that our tax people made NO INQUIRIES to France about their kind offer to share information on the HSBC client list.
How many big-up Barbadian names are on that stolen HSBC Swiss list?
Barbados taxpayers will never know.
How many millions of dollars in lost Bajan tax revenue are sitting on that list?
You mek sport! Barbados taxpayers will have to cover the missing revenues because there is one law for the elites on this island, and another set of rules for the ordinary folks.
Our thanks to the several readers and a special little birdie who sent us information about this story.
Prime Minister Thompson speaks about Owen Arthur’s wealth, corruption and offshore bank accounts
“In 1993 Owen Arthur cried on national television that he could not get a job and he could not make ends meet. He said he could not live in Barbados, because he was less than a man in his own house.
Tonight, many rate him among the 10 top wealthiest men in Barbados…and certainly, the wealthiest leader in the Caribbean.”
“I would believe that Hallam Nicholls, a frighteningly close friend of Owen Arthur, has benefited directly from in excess of $30 million of government procurement business over the last decade.”
Then Opposition Leader David Thompson speaking at Bussa, January 13, 2008 – Transcript here
PRIME MINISTER DAVID THOMPSON is convinced that millions of dollars “bizarrely spent” during the previous Barbados Labour Party (BLP) Administration are now stashed in foreign bank accounts.
“We are not talking about a few hundred dollars here. We are not confusing ourselves with petty cash or other fine change. We are talking about millions and millions of dollars that could otherwise have gone into social, infrastructural and economic development policies and projects for the benefit of Barbadians,” he charged…
Prime Minister Thompson in Toronto, Canada, September 20, 2008 – Thompson confirms BLP officials stashed millions stashed offshore
CBC Canada, Sept 30, 2010: Offshore bank account probe nets Canadians
CBC Canada, May 31, 2010: Tax agency widens offshore investigation