International Consortium of Investigative Journalist released information on Leaked Swiss Banking information. This is based on a trove of almost 60,000 leaked files that provide details on over 100,000 clients of HSBC Private Bank in Geneva Switzerland between the years 1998 – 2007.
The report disclosed that HSBC maintained accounts for customers connected with 30 countries in the wider Caribbean. Offshore banking has often been associated with the underground economy and organized crime via tax evasion and money laundering, but there are legitimate uses for Swiss Bank Accounts and trusts and so countries such as the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands, which are established offshore financial centres, come as no surprise when they appeared on the list.
However, the leaked files show that since 1999, Belizean accounts began appearing at the Swiss Bank, and by 2006 there were 43 Belizean associated clients with 97 different bank accounts.
For the 2006-2007 period, $109.6 million BZ dollars were held in accounts for 28 persons associated with Belize. Of those 28 persons, 9 of them were actually Belizean citizens or holders of Belizean passports and the maximum amount of money associated with a client connected to Belize was $17.8 million BZ.
The leaked information was still very restrictive in its disclosure, as no names were attached to the accounts of Belizeans. The report only leaked the names of selective individuals, about 66 of them from around the world, including a Venezuelan former treasury minister and ex-bodyguard of late President Hugo Chávez.