France de­mands 45,000 UBS ac­counts in tax probe

The Myanmar Times - - International Business -

FRENCH tax au­thor­i­ties have asked Switzer­land to hand over client in­for­ma­tion for some 45,000 bank ac­counts as part of a probe into al­leged tax fraud, Le Parisien daily said yes­ter­day.

Swiss bank­ing gi­ant UBS said in July that the Swiss au­thor­i­ties had asked it to pro­vide client in­for­ma­tion fol­low­ing a French re­quest for in­ter­na­tional ad­min­is­tra­tive as­sis­tance in May.

The de­mand con­cerns clients liv­ing in France, based on data from 2006 to 2008.

Le Parisien pub­lished ex­tracts from a let­ter dated May 11 from French tax au­thor­i­ties. It said that France was chas­ing the names of the own­ers of “more than 45,161 dif­fer­ent ac­count num­bers”.

“The as­sets of those listed to­talled more than 11 bil­lion Swiss francs [US$11 bil­lion], which could rep­re­sent a sev­eral bil­lion dol­lar short­fall for the French trea­sury,” ac­cord­ing to French tax au­thor­i­ties, the re­port said.

French au­thor­i­ties have al­ready iden­ti­fied 4782 ac­counts and are seek­ing to find the own­ers of an ad­di­tional 40,379 ac­counts.

France opened a probe into UBS af­ter for­mer em­ploy­ees blew the whis­tle over the bank’s al­leged sys­tem of set­ting up dual ac­counts to hide the move­ment of cap­i­tal into Switzer­land be­tween 2004 and 2012.

UBS de­nies the ac­cu­sa­tions, ar­gu­ing that its in­volve­ment in such fi­nan­cial op­er­a­tions has not been proven by au­thor­i­ties.

Mean­while, the doc­u­ments Ger­many handed to French judges last year al­lowed them to eval­u­ate the as­sets of French clients held by the bank in 2008 at nearly 12 bil­lion eu­ros ($13.5 bil­lion), ac­cord­ing to a source close to the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

How­ever, not all in­volved tax eva­sion cases.

UBS has been em­broiled in a whole se­ries of sim­i­lar cases, most notably in the United States where the au­thor­i­ties said the bank used Switzer­land’s bank­ing se­crecy laws to help rich clients avoid the tax­man. –

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