GENEVA- Geneva's public prosecutor searched HSBC's lakeside Swiss office today after opening a criminal inquiry into allegations of aggravated money laundering. Europe's largest lender is in regulators' sights after details about how its Swiss private bank allegedly helped wealthy clients evade taxes were leaked to the media and published last week.

The Geneva prosecutor said he had launched an investigation following the allegations and could extend it to individuals. "A search is currently under way in the premises of the bank, led by Attorney General Olivier Jornot and the prosecutor Yves Bertossa," Geneva's prosecutor said in a statement.

HSBC has apologized to customers and investors over the previous failings of its Swiss business and has said the operation has since been overhauled.

However, Britain's financial watchdog said on Monday it would investigate HSBC and focus on its current behavior.

HSBC's Swiss unit has been in the spotlight since 2008 when a former IT employee fled Geneva with files allegedly showing evidence of tax evasion by clients.

The French tax authorities later passed the information to tax authorities around the world. U.S. officials opened a criminal investigation and French magistrates put the bank under formal investigation last November. Tax authorities in Belgium, Austria and Argentina are also looking at the allegations.