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Italy’s tax police investigate 7000

May 27, 2010

by Guy Dinmore in Rome, published on May 27 2010

Italy’s finance police said on Wednesday that its investigation into banking data stolen from HSBC in Switzerland and handed over by the French authorities contained details of nearly 7,000 accounts held by Italians totalling $6.9bn.

Police said in a statement that 6,936 accounts, over a period of 2005 to 2006, were held under 5,728 names, of whom 51 per cent were entrepreneurs. Nearly two-thirds of the accounts were held by individuals based in Italy’s northern region of Lombardy while 132 accounts held more than $10m each.

The list was stolen by a former HSBC employee, Herve Falciani, who turned over the data to the French authorities. He said he was not paid for it. Its existence was revealed last August. France provided the list to Italy last week.

France has defended its use of the stolen data in an EU-wide crackdown on banking secrecy and tax evasion. Prosecutors have launched a money-laundering probe based on about 3,000 accounts held by French clients said to be worth a total of some 3bn euros.

HSBC said in March the data theft affected up to 24,000 Swiss client accounts. Last year it said the information was inaccurate and incomplete.

Switzerland last year threatened to suspend ratification of a new bilateral tax treaty agreed with France over the decision by French fiscal authorities to use the list. Switzerland demanded that the list be returned.

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