HSBC Brazil CEO says he knows nothing about Brazilian accounts in Switzerland

According to HSBC's CEO for Brazil, André Brandão, HSBC Brazil has no

Published in 07/05/2015 - 19:15 By Mariana Jungmann reports from Agência Brasil - Brasília

O presidente do HSBC Brasil, André Guilherme Brandão, participa de audiência pública na Comissão Parlamentar de Inquérito (CPI) do HSBC, no Senado (Marcelo Camargo/Agência Brasil)

HSBC Brazil CEO Guilherme André Brandão Marcelo Camargo/Agência Brasil

HSBC Brazil CEO Guilherme André Brandão was heard Tuesday (May 5) by a congressional committee of investigation (CPI) at the Senate that is probing potentially fraudulent bank accounts held by Brazilians with HSBC Switzerland. He claimed he has no details on Switzerland bank accounts, not even those held by Brazilian nationals. “HSBC Brazil has no access to the client database of other banks in the HSBC Group. I mean, HSBC Brazil does not have access to details on the client database and Private Bank  operations  in Switzerland or any other country,” he explained.

He argued that based on Switzerland's banking laws, the clients' personal and banking details cannot be shared with foreign entities, even within the same corporate group. “Similarly, Brazilian laws prohibit any financial institutions in Brazil from sharing details of their clients in the country without prior client consent,” he said.

According to Brandão, when a Brazilian client contacts the bank to open an account in Switzerland, bank executives in Brazil merely refer the applications to the agents overseas in charge of analyzing and approving investment recommendations and account applications. The bank's office in Brazil holds a list of client referrals, but has no information as to which of them are successful.

Asked to name a contact in the bank that could cooperate with the CPI in providing information, Brandão said firmly that there is no one available and that “only someone at HSBC Switzerland could possibly make any comments that could help the commission clarify the case. But even those of them who are in charge, including the CEO, are not authorized to talk about accounts held by individuals with HSBC Switzerland. He cannot openly discuss accounts of individuals protected by Switzerland's bank privacy laws.”

Brandão said, however, that persons indicted by Brazil's Council for Financial Activity Control (COAF) for suspicious financial transactions are not accepted as HSBC account holders in other countries. “Because of their responsibility to prevent money laundering, the main role of a bank in Brazil is to report any suspicious transactions.” He also confirmed that HSBC Brazil works very closely with COAF. “We report a number of clients to COAF every month,” he said.

According to him, the bank issues about 13,000 warnings per month, which are reviewed and may be reported to COAF – 99% of the reports are accepted. He noted, however, that “the decision to approve new accounts in this case is up to Switzerland. But once an HSBC Brazil client went through the process leading to a COAF referral and this referral resulted in a warning, HSBC automatically closes the account. All clients reported to COAF are barred from having accounts with HSBC Brazil and consequently do not get referred for Switzerland accounts,” he explained.

However, Brandão reiterated that he has no knowledge of the transactions record of clients whose applications are referred for accounts in Switzerland or the list of Brazilians with HSBC Switzerland accounts leaked by the media in the case that became known as Swiss Leaks. This list includes people with accounts in Switzerland unknown to Brazilian authorities that may have been used for tax dodging, money laundering, and for covering up illegal money. According to the leaked document, which lists client names as of 2006, a total 8,000 Brazilians had accounts with HSBC Switzerland back in that year. But no further information on suspected fraud has emerged so far.

Translated by Mayra Borges

Fonte: HSBC Brazil CEO says he knows nothing about Brazilian accounts in Switzerland

Edition: Stênio Ribeiro / Olga Bardawil

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