Bank leak shows hundreds of Swedes hid fortunes in Swiss accounts

A leak from one of the world's largest banks, the British multinational HSBC, shows how it helped rich people around the world avoid taxes in their home nations. Swedish Radio News reported that hundreds of Swedes were named in the leaked material.

Many bank clients hid behind anonymous number accounts and shell corporations in so-called tax paradises. The material covers the period 1988 to 2007. British newspaper The Guardian reported that the bank has admitted to irregularities during the period.

The story was reported in several large European daily newspapers as part of a investigation organized by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

The leaked bank documentation also shows that more than 500 Swedes had accounts at HSBC in Switzerland in 2007. While it isn't illegal for Swedes to have bank accounts in Switzerland, the news program Ekot reported that few were willing to speak about their accounts.

In 2007 the Swedish Wealth Tax was still in effect, a tax which required wealthy Swedes to report their fortunes accurately to the tax authorities and to pay an annual levee. But Swedish Radio's report found that some Swedes who had large account balances at HSBC in 2007, had reported smaller or even no fortunes to the Swedish tax authorities. One consultant who had reported no fortune to the tax authorities had upwards of SEK 35 million in his account in Switzerland.

Andreas Andersson, a footballer who played for the Swedish national team, reported a fortune of SEK 1.5 million in 2007. But Swedish Radio reported that he had an account with a balance of SEK 16 million, more than ten times the amount. Andersson told the radio that he had since adjusted his tax figures with the Swedish tax authorities.

Since the bank leak became known and since Switzerland has offered to cooperate with tax authorities, some Swedes have made adjustments to their previously reported taxes. According to the Swedish Tax Agency about 4,500 people have reported their previously hidden fortunes.