(Adds details from ruling)
MADRID, May 4 (Reuters) - Spain's High Court is to question
seven former executives from HSBC's Swiss private bank
as part of an investigation into alleged money laundering and
tax fraud triggered by tax information leaks from former
employee Herve Falciani.
The court said in a ruling, published on Thursday, it had
decided to widen the investigation to study the flow of funds
from HSBC's Swiss private bank to Spain's Banco Santander
and France's BNP Paribas.
"These entities have collaborated to repatriate funds
deposited in HSBC's Swiss private bank with the aim of
concealing them from Spanish tax authorities," the court said in
a separate statement also published on Thursday.
HSBC, which reported first-quarter results on Thursday,
declined to comment.
The Spanish investigation is one of many by national tax
authorities as a result of the leak in 2008 of client data
belonging to HSBC's private bank by Falciani, a former IT
employee at the bank. France, Austria, Belgium and Argentina
have launched their own investigations.
Falciani, a French citizen, has said he is a whistleblower
trying to help governments track down citizens who used Swiss
accounts to evade tax. In 2015, a Swiss court sentenced him, in
his absence, to five years in prison for aggravated industrial
On Wednesday, the Spanish court ruled that seven current and
former Santander bankers and three former bankers from BNP's
Spanish unit would be questioned, with hearings set for June.
Santander said it had actively cooperated with the court, while
BNP declined to comment.
HSBC's Swiss private bank channelled almost 74 million euros
($81 million) through Santander between 2005 and 2008 to pay
clients at other banks, Wednesday's court ruling said.
The High Court said on Thursday the seven former HSBC
executives would be summoned as suspects under investigation for
possible crimes of money laundering and organised crime.
Under the Spanish legal system, people can be named as
formal suspects until a more detailed investigation is carried
(Reporting By Jesús Aguado and Angus Berwick; Additional
reporting by Andrew MacAskill; Editing by Jane Merriman)