16:51 18 February 2015
Following reports that HSBC bank has been tolerating illegal activities involving arm dealers and traders as well as helping rich people evade taxes, prosecutors in Switzerland have launched an investigation into allegations of money laundering within the company’s private banking arm.
A statement said: "Following the recent revelations related to the HSBC Private Bank (Switzerland), the public prosecutor announces the opening of a criminal procedure against the bank ... for aggravated money laundering."
Swiss prosecutors added that the investigation may include individuals “suspected of committing or participating in acts of money laundering.”
The investigation came after a global scandal which stemmed from the publication of secret documents. The information, which was published in a French newspaper, claimed that HSBC’s Swiss private banking arm has helped clients in more than 200 countries evade taxes on accounts amounting to $119bn.
A statement from HSBC said: "We have co-operated continuously with the Swiss authorities since first becoming aware of the data theft in 2008 and we continue to co-operate."
Last week, the CEO of HSBC’s Swiss private bank Franco Morra said it shut down accounts from clients who “did not meet our high standards.”