By Benjamin Flowers
Nine Belizeans were identified as being implicated in an international tax evasion scheme this week.
A report issued by International Consortium of Investigative Journalists disclosed that the names of nine Belizeans were discovered in the Swiss banking arm of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC).
The nine Belizean residents were listed along with 20 other clients registered to Belize but not having Belizean nationality. The value of all 29 accounts amounted to US $54.8 million.
The value of those accounts held by Belizean nationals was $19.2 million, the largest account being valued at $8.9 million. The smallest was valued at 0.4 million dollars.
The Reporter made numerous attempts to speak with Director of the Financial Intelligence Unit, Eric Eusey, but he was not available.
Accounts from 30 different countries, including Aruba, Jamaica, Greneda, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Barbados and Suriname, among others were mentioned in the report.
Numerous political figures from several countries have been under scrutiny, after the data implicated either themselves or others close to them.
In Venezuela, pressure groups are questioning why a former treasury minister and ex-bodyguard of the late President Hugo Chávez is linked to an account with HSBC holding billions of dollars.
In the United Kingdom, Public Accounts Committee Chair, Margaret Hodge, has come out against British Prime Minister, David Cameron for what she called a “pathetic” response at bringing tax evaders to justice after the files had been leaked.
The leak, which provided data on some 30,000 accounts, is being regarded by international media as the biggest banking leak in history. The accounts are valued at almost US $120 billion! The files, which cover a period of 2005-2007, were leaked by former HSBC employee, Hervé Falciani, who fled to France because obtaining the information for the leak violated numerous banking laws in Switzerland.
He now lives in France under police protection, after the French government refused to extradite him since the leaked data has led them to several French tax evaders.
The names of the rich Belizeans have not been disclosed.