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Report: Leaked Panama Papers link HSBC with blacklisted Syrian family

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Report: Leaked Panama Papers link HSBC with blacklisted Syrian family

Documents leaked from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca detaillinks between HSBC HoldingsPlc and a U.S.-blacklisted cousin of Syrian President Basharal-Assad, suggesting the bank argued against cutting the ties, The Guardian reported April 5.

U.S. authorities imposed sanctions on Rami Makhlouf in 2008,saying he "improperly benefits from and aids the public corruption ofSyrian regime officials."

According to the newspaper, the documents show that HSBChelped Makhlouf keep Swiss bank accounts open at the beginning of Syria's civilwar.

Mossack Fonseca and HSBC appear to have assisted Makhloufwith control of a large swath of the Syrian economy, the report said. HSBCappears to have argued against cutting ties with the Makhlouf family. An emailfrom 2011 from Mossack Fonseca's Geneva office said: "Mr [X] told me thatHSBC compliance department of the bank not only in Geneva but also in theirhead quarters in London know about Mr. makhlouf [sic] and that they arecomfortable with him."

In the wake of the "Panama Papers" leak, HSBC allegations that theyactively used shell companies to help clients evade taxes, Reuters reported.