It’s probably not the best top-100 to be a part of, but at least Tanzania can reassure itself that it’s lower on the top-100 in Swiss Leaks than Kenya (58.) Other EAC countries rank lower on the list: Uganda at 105, Burundi at 131 and Rwanda at 171.
Swiss Leaks data, released on Sunday February 8, reveals a glimpse into HSBC Private Bank (Suisse) and outlines how money has moved worldwide.
The data shows that between 1982 and 2006, 99 clients from Tanzania opened accounts at Swiss HSBC branch, valued at approximately $114 million USD.
“The maximum amount of money associated with a client connected to Tanzania was $20.8 million USD,” states the report.
Twenty percent of the clients held Tanzanian passports and the majority of accounts were linked to an individual person — as opposed to a numbered or offshore company.
It’s not illegal to have an offshore account, nor is it illegal to avoid taxes. Deliberately hiding money to evade taxes, is illegal however.
The leaked data of over 60,000 documents goes on to show clients of the exclusive bank included dictators and arms dealers, among which Tanzanian businessman Shailesh Vithlani — who holds a UK passport — is named.
Swiss Leaks says they have a document which shows HSBC staff met with Vithlani, who was named by the Guardian as the middleman in the BAE radar scandal, to advise him on investment options in 2005.
HSBC says that they’ve changed a lot of their policies since then and, “as a result of this repositioning, HSBC’s Swiss private bank has reduced its client base by almost 70 percent since 2007.”
“We acknowledge that the compliance culture and standards of due diligence in HSBC’s Swiss private bank, as well as the industry in general, were significantly lower than they are today.”
The Swiss Leaks data was gathered by a former HSBC computer expert turned whistle-blower, who turned it over to French authorities in 2008. The French newspaper LeMonde obtained the data, spanning the accounts of over 100,000 clients from over 200 countries, and shared it with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) to produce the Swiss Leaks report.