* Part of network smuggling cannabis to France, Spain
* Brothers admitted getting cash in plastic bags
* One ex HSBC employee, other worked for Geneva firm
By Emma Farge
GENEVA, Jan 29 Two brothers who worked for
financial firms were sentenced to prison on Tuesday for
laundering money through Swiss bank accounts for a Moroccan drug
smuggling ring, Geneva authorities said.
The two men were part of a family network thought to be run
by Swiss and French citizens of Moroccan origin selling cannabis
from North Africa to France and Spain, said the Geneva judicial
Swiss and French authorities launched an investigation
code-named 'Virus' in October after they discovered a safe
hidden behind a wardrobe in Geneva holding cash and valuables
worth around 3 million Swiss francs ($3.25 million).
Investigators arrested 20 people and froze accounts at
several Geneva banks.
Switzerland is seeking to widen the powers of its anti-money
laundering unit as part of a campaign to shed its image as a tax
In 2011, it identified suspicious asset flows totalling a
record 3 billion Swiss francs.
Geneva's judicial authority said the brothers, who were
unnamed in accordance with Swiss privacy laws, had admitted
accepting bundles of cash in plastic bags as part of the
One of the brothers is a former employee of HSBC, the bank
confirmed on Tuesday, and faces up to two years in prison.
"We fired the employee after our internal investigation last
year. Our investigation showed that the bank was not in any way
involved in this matter," said HSBC spokesman Medard
The man's older brother works for a "Geneva-based wealth
management firm" and was sentenced to a maximum sentence of
three years, the Geneva authority said.
A third person accused of being involved in the operation is
still awaiting a verdict, it added.
($1 = 0.9221 Swiss francs)
(Reporting by Emma Farge; Editing by Andrew Heavens)