A while ago a French daily evening newspaper Le Monde in collaboration with the US-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) released data on secret accounts of the Geneva branch of HSBC – one of the largest banking and financial service institutions in the world, which allowed the rich and influential to evade taxes. Additionally, HSBC has allegedly been providing drug traffickers and arms dealers with secret accounts. According to the above mentioned publication a total worth of more than 106,000 individuals accounts of international clients amounts to the staggering 100 billion dollars. Among the clients of the Swiss branch of HSBC one could track members of political and business elites, top richest business owners, both former and sitting public officials, their relatives, royal family members, and, guess who – politicians. The unfolding scandal was dubbed “Swiss Leaks” by the international press. The published information, that was stolen by an HSBC insider Hervé Falciani, concerns the period of 2005-2007.
In a short period of time following the scandal, different media outlets across the globe started to publish their own revelations that stated that “due to the further investigation of the HSBC case” different governments managed to recover billions of dollars of unpaid taxes.
However, financial claims that quickly followed the scandal, that were put forward by the U.S. Department of Justice Criminal Division and U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission against two Swiss banks – HSBC and UBS, clearly show that this whole story was carefully orchestrated by the White House and the US Central Intelligence Agency to achieve a desired effect.
The timing of this leak was flawless since as of lately the Obama administration has been suffering one defeating blow after another — starting in the international arena, where the pursuit of “White House-style democracy” has been facing growing criticism all around the globe due the stand-off with Russia over the Ukraine crisis, on top of numerous European, Middle Eastern, and Asia-Pacific crises, and ending with a multitude of domestic affairs. It’s clear that at home Obama has nothing to put on the table – the deepening financial crisis has been crippling the American economy further, while this process has been aggravated even further by the oil war that Washington has unleashed against allegedly non-friendly countries. In such a situation minor financial injections in the form of “fines” paid by Swiss banks may serve a temporarily remedy to what lies ahead of the United States in economic terms. Above all, for the first time in a long while the White House may play the role as a positive hero, by fighting a righteous fight against tax evaders.
But there’s a chance that it has been waging this war for all the wrong reasons:
- The head of ICIJ Gerard Ryle reported that the consortium was in possession of information on tax evasion that was carried out by a number of wealthy clients of Swiss banks two years ago in April 2013. Later on he published an official statement on the ICIJ website, underlying that he has no intention of handing over this information to the US or any other country. According to Ryle, official requests to allow access to their records were issued by a number government agencies, including those from Germany, Greece, South Korea, Canada and the United States, but ICIJ refused any chance of possible cooperation with them. Then the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists announced that they had managed to obtain from 2.5 million secret files (about 260 gigabytes of data) regarding tax evasion from “anonymous sources.” The database that was snatched from the bankers allegedly contained information on the accounts of about 100 thousand individuals and legal entities from 170 countries.
- The HSBC insider – Hervé Falciani – has specifically pointed out that the CIA was directly involved in this whole story. For example, while speaking to the BFM TV channel on February 12 Falchiani explicitly stated that the CIA was behind this operation and that he met CIA agents on numerous occasions. Additionally he had conversations with EU officials on financial discipline along with French and European political and business leaders, naming the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker among others.
- It’s curious that it was the CIA that carried out the investigation of HSBC tax evasion alone, at no point in this operation was the U.S. Ministry of Justice or IRS was involved, those bodies had no contact with Hervé Falciani or any knowledge of him, which means that it was a CIA operation all long!
It is quite clear that the CIA has obtained information on the accounts of investors who wanted to protect their money from creditors, ex-spouses, political opponents and law enforcement agencies. At no point in history have private bank clients been so heavily compromised or have been as high ranking. Among those caught in the scandal one can name royal family members (in particular, the King of Morocco Mohammed VI, Prince of Bahrain Salman bin Hamad etc.), politicians, ambassadors, and businessmen.
There’s numerous ways of how the CIA can use this information, which gives the White House an edge over a number of countries around the globe and their respective elites. It’s no wonder then that out of the blue a number of states in the Middle East started supporting the Kiev junta and Washington’s sanctions against Russia.
An active use of financial instruments in its foreign policy has already become a hallmark of Washington’s modus operandi. Arrests and sanctions against personal accounts of foreign politicians and business representatives have been carried out on a regular basis in order to force political elites around the globe into following the explicit instructions of the White House. Therefore one can conclude that the CIA is on a regular hunt for other people’s bank accounts, that should allow the US to put the world under its control. – Here is yet another taste of notorious “American-style democracy”!
Vladimir Platov, an expert on the Middle East, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”