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More clients affected by HSBC bank data theft

Account data stolen from a Geneva branch of British bank HSBC has provided French tax authorities with tens of thousands of names, far more than previously reported.

French prosecutor Eric de Montgolfier said on Sunday that authorities had the names of 130,000 clients from numerous countries who had accounts in Switzerland. The bank said last week it believed the number of affected clients was “less than ten”.

A former employee at HSBC Private Bank allegedly handed French tax authorities account data on what could prove to be nearly every client at the institution.

French budget minister Eric Woerth said his offices had the names of about 3,000 French citizens who held secret numbered accounts in Switzerland worth €3 billion (SFr4.54 billion). He said a portion of those names had come from the informant.

The list also includes the names of clients from Colombia and Italy and could provide details on ill-gotten gains from organised crime. The informant has assumed a new name and is living in southern France under a witness protection programme.

France could use the data to prod suspected tax cheats into coming forward by the end of the year with amnesty offers.

The former HSBC employee told French television he received no money for the information. Last year German agents paid an insider $4 million for data on clients at a Liechtenstein bank. That information eventually led to a crackdown on banking secrecy. and agencies

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