In February 2015, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) released information on their website about Swiss Bank account details based on information leaked from HSBC.
An ex-employee of HSBC turned whistle-blower, Herve Falciani, downloaded and handed over HSBC’s clients’ account-related data to the French authorities in 2008. He has been on the run from the Swiss authorities for data theft. However, the information he handed over to the French authorities has resulted in prosecutions in France. The French authorities shared this information with other countries and the ICIJ has now had access to this database.
Naturally, when ICIJ put up the information on their website, I was curious and wanted to search for possible Singaporeans having Swiss accounts. Rather disappointingly, ICIJ has been selective in making the information public. Instead of making the full databse public in a searchable format as they did for the ‘Offshore Leaks’, ICIJ has decided to engage in a selective naming and shaming game.
Information of some well known politicians, celebrities and businessmen has been disclosed. They have provided country-specific information in a generalised form without disclosing identities.
We are ranked No. 50. This is not one of those lists that we want to be No.1 in though. 🙂 There appears to be one client with US$192 million.
The data available, as indicated in the above chart, covers the period from 1988 to 2006. It would be interesting to see what the figures would be like today considering the rapid rise of the proportion of wealthy individuals in Singapore over the years.
Based on the information in the above chart, there are 255 clients from Singapore of whom only 12% (or approximately 30 clients) are Singapore Passport holders. Foreigners have beaten us flat on this measure as well. :-p
Before we start jumping the gun to allege tax evasion/fraud/money-laundering, etc, there could be legitimate reasons of privacy for which people park their well-gotten gains in Swiss accounts. After all, if you were a rich businessman and secretly had a mistress in Mongolia, you would want to provide for her through a secret account, wouldn’t you?
According to ICIJ, the French government has been coordinating and sharing information with other governments for the purpose of investigating tax offences. I wonder if there are any such investigations being carried out by our government in relation to those accounts that allegedly originate from Singapore clients.
Anyway, Malaysians will be interested to know about the accounts from Malaysian clients. One has been named as part of the selective naming that ICIJ has resorted to this time. There is an account under the name of Sultanah Kalsom, wife of the Pahang Sultan. She is listed in the HSBC records as “housewife”. It would be nice to be that kind of housewife. 🙂
If you wish to explore the database yourself, you can go to this link.
The story on Swiss leaks is still developing. The Guardian newspaper has a timeline on this story here: