Number-crunching, a la Private Eye: the case of HSBC and its Swiss fine for “organisational deficiencies” in relation to money-laundering.
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Not all the assets under management were laundered, of course. Far from it, we must hope. But the “organisational deficiencies” – including reassuring clients that no information would reach their home authorities, or using offshore accounts to circumvent disclosure requirements – represent risks that applied to the whole operation.
To put it another way, the fine is about a fifth of the £135 million in tax that HMRC recovered in the UK alone.
Even the prosecutor imposing the fine was embarrassed, and “launched a stinging attack” on the Swiss law that apparently prevented anything within yodeling distance of being a deterrent.