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Israeli Tax Dodgers Exposed in Swiss HSBC Scandal with $10 billion in Secret Accounts

There are also 55 Palestinians on the list, both from the West Bank and Gaza, with a combined $148 million safely tucked away in Geneva.

Hervé Falciani / Source: CBS 60 Minutes

It is estimated that 6, 500 Israeli citizens have been hiding about $10 billion in secret HSBC bank accounts in Switzerland, it has been revealed by documents released Sunday night by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

According to CBS’ “60 Minutes, ” a 37-year-old computer security specialist named Hervé Falciani stole a huge cache of data in 2007 from HSBC, the second largest commercial bank in the world. He handed the data over to the French government, and it is being used by world governments to catch tax cheats.

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The exposed documents show that HSBC collaborated with tax dodgers, arms dealers and drug smugglers, behind the safe wall of Swiss banking secrecy. Please keep in mind that the amounts mentioned here are as of 2007, and could have changed significantly, up or down.

According to Haaretz, Israeli citizens and Israeli expats are included in the bunch. And, in a rare show of peaceful coexistence, there are also 55 Palestinians on the list, both from the West Bank and Gaza, with a combined $148 million safely tucked away in Geneva.

Yes, it turns out the occupation really is corrupting…

The list shows names of account holders, the amounts on deposit, as well as—how embarrassing—notes on meetings and phone calls with HSBC bankers.

Who are some of the Israelis on the list? There’s Beny Steinmetz and his brother Daniel, who inherited a diamond fortune. They kept a nest egg of more than $100 million.

There’s also Rabbi David Pinto, who runs a network of nonprofit institutions, who had $2.3 million in a Swiss account.

Charity begins at home.

Zadik Bino, controlling shareholder of First International Bank of Israel, is on a Virgin Islands company account with $22 million. The beneficiaries are his children.

Family comes first.

According to Haaretz, 17 Israeli accounts held more than $100 million each, some 200 had $10 million or more, and 1, 350 had at least $1 million.

A spokesman for the Bank of Israel has stated that “as a rule, the representative of a foreign bank that has no branch in Israel who comes here is prohibited from engaging in the activities conducted by a banking corporation, under the Banking Law. Nevertheless, from the Banking Law’s perspective, providing information or advice is permissible.”

So it’s all good. Except, of course, that the money is outer-space black, so, a visit from the taxman is not unexpected.



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