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HSBC staff leave amid criminal probe: report

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21:01 CET+01:00
Several employees at the HSBC bank in Geneva have left "by mutual agreement" after the unravelling of a $130-million drug and money laundering ring in France and Switzerland, Swiss daily Tribune de Genève reported on Friday.

While it remained unclear how many workers had left, one of the employees to go was the eldest brother of no fewer than three suspects accused of involvement in the ring, including the main suspect for Switzerland operations Meyer Elmaley, the daily said.

"He is not suspected of any involvement (in the money laundering probe)", said the man's lawyer, Marc Bonnant, adding that it was his client's idea to leave HSBC's Supervisory Executive Committee to protect against any question of wrongdoing.

"He wasn't even questioned by police," the lawyer said, adding that his client, whose name was not given, had gone to live in Israel but was still working with HSBC before French and Swiss police cracked down on the ring on October 10th.

HSBC, which declined to comment on the development to AFP, has also come to a similar arrangement with other employees in a bid to protect its reputation, the lawyer added.

Two of the former HSBC executive's brothers — one of them a former HSBC colleague — are being held in Swiss custody over their involvement in a drug and money laundering racket Paris says legitimised at least 100 million euros.

A third brother is being held in France in connection with the same case.

According to reports, the two brothers held in Switzerland are suspected of laundering cash through a Geneva-based finance company, with the possible unwitting participation of French tax evaders.

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