Sixty-nine people with links to Zambia were among the 100,000 clients of banking giant HSBC’s Swiss subsidiary holding $48.3 million (K314 M) in their accounts. This is according to data from a former IT employee of HSBC’s Swiss subsidiary who hacked into client accounts and took almost 60,000 files before fleeing to France. The US-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) has summarized this data on an interactive global map on their website – here are the charts related to Zambia:
About 13 (19%) of the clients hold Zambian passports. The maximum amount associated with a single client connected to Zambia was $12.8 million (K83.2 M). Zambia ranked 120 among the countries which had the largest dollar amounts within the leaked files. South Africa is the highest ranked African country with $2 billion in the accounts.
Why this matters
There is nothing wrong with Zambians or anyone having a Swiss bank account – the Swiss have been good bankers for decades. But here is an interesting chart which should be ringing alarm bells in the head of any Zambian:
It is quite telling that accumulated active accounts increased tremendously from 1991 to 2006 – an era replete with corruption scandals in Zambia. There were also countless funds which were never accounted for during the privatization of various Government entities over that period.
It would be interesting to see if the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) already knew about these specific links. If not, it would be a good time for them to get in touch with ICIJ (or others entities with the data) to obtain the actual files which could help them close out or pursue some investigations.
Here’s a chart of the way Swiss banks protect the privacy of their clients:
The Zambia Revenue Authorities (ZRA) might also want to gain access to those files to investigate whether those 69 people paid their fair share of taxes.
Journalists (especially Zambian ones!) can collaborate with the ICIJ by contacting them at email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Trying to decipher this puzzle that is Zambia by using a variety of publicly available data (structured and unstructured) in conjunction with my own skill/experience. * * *