The leaked files, based on the inner workings of HSBC’s private banking arm, relate to accounts holding over Sh9.1 trillion ($100 billion).
HSBC owns a Swiss bank and has footprints in Europe, South America and the United States, and a branch in South Africa. The report is based on a leak of the details of 100,000 accounts by a whistle-blower in the bank. Some personalities linked to the HSBC accounts are said to have been assisted by the bank to evade hundreds of billions of shillings in taxes.
The Kenyan accounts have placed the country in the top 100 of the 203 countries on the list, at position 58.
Mr Muthama is mentioned among a host of famous names in business and the arts, although the list also includes a female arms dealer once accused of selling weapons that fueled the fighting in Burundi.
It is not clear why the other Kenyans are not named, but one account is said to have held close to Sh3.2 billion ($35.8 million). Switzerland, France, the United Kingdom, Brazil and the United States are among the countries on the list.
The leaked HSBC files offer a rare glimpse inside one of the world’s most private banking systems. They show the bank’s dealings with clients engaged in a spectrum of illegal behaviour, especially in hiding hundreds of millions of dollars from tax authorities.
According to the dossier, about 463 such accounts from Kenya were opened between 1975 and 2006. These were linked to 1,093 bank accounts.
Globally, 742 clients are associated with Kenya, with a third of them having a Kenyan passport or nationality. Muthama, through his personal assistant, confirmed to the journalists that the details in the report were correct but maintained that the account was opened for a specific purpose and later closed.
“I do not have any foreign account at the moment and that company does not exist,” he said in a telephone interview.
His statement matched what he had told the journalists investigating the leaks. Muthama told them that his Rockland96 account was opened in 1996.