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Ex-HSBC Wealth Manager Accused of $3 Million Drip-Feed Heist

Updated on
  • Banker allegedly stole in small increments to avoid detection
  • Man accused in Geneva of criminal mismanagement and forgery

A former wealth manager with HSBC Holdings Plc’s Swiss private bank in Geneva was accused of stealing about 3 million Swiss francs ($3.2 million) from his rich Turkish clients, drip-feeding money from their accounts over a period of two years.

The alleged theft by the banker, who can’t be identified under Swiss law, went undetected for so long because he robbed no more than 10,000 francs from his clients at one time, the Tribune de Geneve cited the police as saying. The bank and prosecutors confirmed allegations.

He also stole money by approaching HSBC’s cash desk, saying he was taking out cash for his clients who were in town, and then covering his tracks with falsified signatures, according to the paper’s report on the allegations. The ex-employee’s ruse was discovered when he tried to withdraw a larger sum that raised the alarm, the paper said.

“This case is about a former employee engaging in misconduct for his personal financial gain,” said Michael Spiess, a spokesman for HSBC. “As soon as we had suspicions we launched an internal investigation, terminated his employment and passed the case to the relevant authorities.”

The alleged HSBC heist comes in the wake of a rash of other criminal fraud cases at Geneva’s top banks. Ex-Credit Suisse Group AG banker Patrice Lescaudron awaits a verdict from Geneva judges early next month after standing trial on fraud charges after he admitted faking trades with some of his Russian clients to hide growing losses over a period of more than six years. In an unrelated case, two Geneva-based Turkish fund managers who left Credit Suisse in 2008 to set up a firm to manage money for their rich Turkish customers, are accused of fraud for allegedly forging signatures and faking orders to try to cover losses of at least 150 million francs.

The fired HSBC wealth manager has already been questioned by Geneva police and is accused of criminal mismanagement, forgery and breach of trust by local prosecutor Philippe Knupfer, said a spokesman for the Geneva prosecutor’s office. Hadrien Mangeat, a lawyer for the accused, declined to comment.

The man worked with an accomplice and stole from as many as 15 victims, the Tribune de Geneve said. The local prosecutor’s office wasn’t immediately able to confirm that number.

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