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Swiss Defend Seven-Year Delay to HSBC Money-Launder Probe

The HSBC Holdings Plc headquarters in London.

The HSBC Holdings Plc headquarters in London.

Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg
Updated on

Swiss prosecutors are scrambling to explain why they took seven years to probe suspicions of money laundering aroused by data stolen from HSBC Holdings Plc’s private bank in Geneva.

Inspired by Feb. 8 disclosures by the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists that HSBC did business with arms dealers, blood-diamond traffickers and other criminals, Geneva prosecutors last week seized client records from the bank’s offices in the city. That leaves the Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber defending years of inaction as federal prosecutors focused instead on apprehending the data thief Herve Falciani.