Credit Suisse among banks in French tax swoop

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The names of 3,000 suspected tax evadors have been handed over by three Swiss banks, including Credit Suisse.

Geneva –  France obtained the names of 3,000 suspected tax cheats through the French subsidiaries of three Swiss banks, including Credit Suisse, a Swiss newspaper reported on Wednesday.

"Three Swiss banks did hand over the names and account numbers of some 3,000 taxpayers suspected of tax evasion," the daily Le Temps said, saying that the information was confirmed by a source in the French budget ministry.

The source added: "Credit Suisse? Yes but that wasn't the only one."

Credit Suisse said on Wednesday that its structure in France was subject to French law but that the Swiss bank had not provided any data from Switzerland.

"Credit Suisse has not provided any data from Switzerland to French nor any other country's authorities," spokesman Marc Dosch told AFP.

"CS (Credit Suisse) France is a French bank and thus subject to the same rules as any other bank in France," he added.

Two of the banks gave the information during a check by French taxation authorities, the Swiss newspaper said.

It underlined French procedure that obliges banks to reveal details of transfers and accounts in France, including any beneficiaries abroad, upon request by tax authorities -- a common obligation in European countries.

In Switzerland, the equivalent approach to a locally-based bank even by Swiss tax authorities would be outlawed by banking secrecy law, except for criminal investigations.

Swiss bank subsidaries or branches in France would risk fines of up to "hundreds of millions of euros" if they failed to cooperate, Le Temps said.

French budget minister Eric Woerth announced the list of 3,000 French taxpayers 10 days ago, saying that at least some of them were "very probably" evading taxes.

Woerth said most of the details came directly from the banking establishments concerned or from unidentified informers.

Under international pressure, Switzerland, long regarded as a major tax haven, has signed in recent months bolstered dual taxation agreements with countries including France to ease banking secrecy and allow wider information swaps on banking details of foreign customers.

Additional US pressure on Swiss bank UBS has forced the bank to hand over thousands of names to authorities in the United States.

AFP / Expatica

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