A former executive from HSBC's private Swiss bank has been cleared from helping clients hide assets worth at least €1.6bn, three years after French authorities charged him.
Judah Elmaleh, the former head of the bank's Mediterranean-Israel department, had been charged over allegations he approached French residents to encourage them to move funds to Switzerland and helped clients evade taxes, but Paris judges decided the case should be dropped.
At the same time as Elmaleh was cleared, the chief executive officer of HSBC's Swiss private bank pleaded guilty to similar charges and was fined 500,000 euros. The previously unreported non-public decision dated Jan. 4 also notes that Elmaleh's testimony was useful in building the larger case against the lender.
Thierry Marambert, one of Elmaleh's lawyers, said the dismissal of charges was an acknowledgement of his client's good faith and innocence, while a non-public decision from back in January noted that the former executive's testimony had proved useful in the wider investigation into HSBC, Sharecast reports.
The investigation has seen HSBC pay out €300m to resolve allegations.
France has recently staged a crackdown on money laundering and tax evasion operated through Switzerland, with UBS being slapped with a record €4.5bn fine back in February.