The following script is from “The Swiss Leaks” which aired on Feb. 8, 2015. Bill Whitaker is the correspondent. Ira Rosen and Habiba Nosheen, producers.
This story was reported in collaboration with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.
The largest and most damaging Swiss bank heist in history doesn’t involve stolen money but stolen computer files with more than 100,000 names tied to Swiss bank accounts at HSBC, the second largest commercial bank in the world.
Secret documents reveal that global banking giant HSBC profited from doing business with arms dealers who channeled mortar bombs to child soldiers in Africa, bag men for Third World dictators, traffickers in blood diamonds and other international outlaws.
The leaked files, based on the inner workings of HSBC’s Swiss private banking arm, relate to accounts holding more than $100 billion. They provide a rare glimpse inside the super-secret Swiss banking system — one the public has never seen before.
The documents, obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists via the French newspaper Le Monde, show the bank’s dealings with clients engaged in a spectrum of illegal behavior, especially in hiding hundreds of millions of dollars from tax authorities. They also show private records of famed soccer and tennis players, cyclists, rock stars, Hollywood actors, royalty, politicians, corporate executives and old-wealth families.