Authorities raid HSBC's private Swiss bank

HSBC The heat is being turned up on HSBC as the authorities launch an investigation into the bank's private bank in Switzerland over allegations of money laundering. This, you'll know, follows the news that HSBC seem to have been turning a blind-eye to dodgy goings on where the bank have been helping blood diamond traders and gun-runners to evade taxes. Allegedly.

Prosecutors in Geneva have announced that they're searching the premises of HSBC Private Bank. In a statement, they said: "Following the recent revelations related to the HSBC Private Bank (Switzerland), the public prosecutor announces the opening of a criminal procedure against the bank ... for aggravated money laundering."

They also added that this probe was against HSBC themselves, but depending on their findings, they could well include individuals who have been "suspected of committing or participating in acts of money laundering".

The cache of leaked files given to the press makes a lot of bold claims that will be making a lot of people very nervous. There's accusations that HSBC's Swiss private banking arm helped out the wealthy from more than 200 countries to sidestep taxes, on accounts that totalled over £77bn. There's some celebrities being implicated too, as well as arms dealers, dictators' associates and other "outlaws".

A statement from HSBC said: "We have co-operated continuously with the Swiss authorities since first becoming aware of the data theft in 2008 and we continue to co-operate."

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