Total of HSBC funds linked to State inflated by IFSC

$3.5bn held in accounts linked to Republic, analysis of HSBC files finds

The amount of money linked to Ireland in the leaked HSBC files is inflated by the International Financial Services Centre in Dublin. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

The amount of money linked to Ireland in the leaked HSBC files is inflated by the International Financial Services Centre in Dublin. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

 

The amount of money linked to Ireland in the leaked HSBC files is inflated by the International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) in Dublin, and the role Ireland plays in the international funds administration business.

Analysis of the files – which are electronic data rather than electronically stored copies of paper documents – by The Irish Times and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists found the accounts linked with Ireland held a total of $3.543 billion, and involved slightly more than 350 clients as well as 892 accounts.

The HSBC accounts linked with Irish-resident individuals appear to hold money belonging to small and medium-sized business people. A significant number of them who had undeclared money in their accounts declared the money as part of a Revenue incentive scheme or tax amnesty in 2004. Another 20 have made settlements since the data was obtained by the Revenue Commissioners in 2010.

It is not illegal to hold a Swiss bank account but some of the Irish accounts may have been used for possibly illegal activities. The Irish Times understands one was linked with payments to senior political figures in a third country.

The HSBC data was collected in 2006 and 2007 and 241 of the Irish accounts had funds in them, but many others were closed. Most of the accounts (225) were in the name of an individual, while 56 were numbered and 72 were in the name of an offshore company. It is important to note the money in an account in a person’s name could be transferred to an offshore company and so appear twice in the data.

Northern Ireland addresses

The Irish accounts include addresses in Northern Ireland as well as the Republic, and also Irish nationals who are resident in the United Kingdom and elsewhere, including Switzerland, as well as UK and other nationals, who are , or were, resident here.

The largest balance held by an individual with an Irish address was in excess of €12 million and was in accounts associated with a businessman who told The Irish Times he is not domiciled here.

The dates of birth recorded in the files show Irish residents of all ages being involved, including people born in the 1920s, as well as cases where parents and children of families are all listed as being associated with deposits.

Figures skewed

The extent to which banks based in the IFSC skew the Irish figures is illustrated by an account in the name of Citco Global Custody NV, a Dutch funds services operation. It has a balance of $731 million and used as its address a Citco Bank Netherlands branch in the IFSC.

There are a number of other accounts that hold multi- hundred-million dollar balances, and are associated with funds or funds administration services companies with Dublin addresses. The use of HSBC by Dublin-based fund administration companies links Ireland to well-known or powerful foreign nationals.

The “Irish” files contain the names of a number of senior members of the Saudi royal family, many of whom give their occupations as “prince” or “princess” but one of whom, Prince Mohammad Bin Fahd Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud Al Bilad, is described as the governor of the eastern region of Saudi Arabia. The eastern region is the site of many of the kingdom’s oil wells.

The link between the Saudis and Ireland comes by way of Custom House Administration and Corporate Services Ltd, with an address on Eden Quay, Dublin. Custom House Administration has since changed its name to TMF Custom House Fund Services (Ireland) Ltd and has an address at Spencer Dock, Dublin.

In 2006, the company was owned by Custom House Holding Ltd, with an address in the British Virgin Islands.