The Swiss banking arm of HSBC is being accused of assisting ultra-rich clients evade taxes in their home countries.

Stemming from a whistle-blower tip to French newspaper Le Monde, Swiss authorities raided an HSBC office on Wednesday. The leaked information was enough for them to be granted search warrants under the suspicion of money laundering.

It will be alleged that the documents seized from the raid show that HSBC created accounts in Switzerland for international criminals, politicians, celebrities, businessmen, and royalty. However, authorities were quick to add that having an account does not necessarily imply wrongdoing.

Hundreds of clients in more than 200 countries had their information released from files stolen from HSBC. It is estimated the deposits in these accounts exceed $119 billion euros (AUS $104 billion)

Among those caught up in the scandal is Morocco’s King Mohammed VI.

Le Monde newspaper reported on February 10 that a joint-account had been created at HSBC with King Mohammed VI and his private secretary Mounir Majidi as signatories. The paper suggested that it was currently “illegal, in principal, for Moroccans residing in Morocco to hold a foreign bank account.”

“The sum of money held by His Majesty the King in HSBC account targeted by your article,” wrote the King to Le Monde in response, “was transferred there in total transparency with the formal and prior agreement of the exchange office, as required by Moroccan law.”

“The opening of this account was thus carried out with strict respect for fiscal laws.”

In responding to Le Monde’s accusation of tax evasion the King stated he was “in no way a fiscal resident of France, it is hard to understand under what conditions he is included among the ‘elites of French tax evasion.”

The investigation is continuing.

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