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Tax probe French investigate Swiss bank for Cahuzac link

The private bank's headqaurters are in Geneva

(Reuters)

Swiss private bank Reyl has been placed under formal investigation by French prosecutors in connection to allegations that it helped disgraced former French budget minister Jerôme Cahuzac hide money from the tax authorities.

The launch of a formal probe followed the grilling of the bank’s chief executive François Reyl at a hearing in Paris.

The move has “resulted in a formal investigation decision that the bank contests”, Reyl said in a media statement released on Tuesday evening and quoted on news agencies. No more details of the investigation have been released.

But the bank added that it now had access to the file to allow it to correct facts and that the hearing had allowed it to show that it had acted in accordance with applicable regulations and legislation.

The outing of a government minister as a tax cheat caused consternation in France, particularly as President François Hollande had declared war on tax evaders.

Cahuzac initially denied the allegations but resigned his post in March after later admitting to holding €600,000 (CHF739,000) in a secret Swiss account and being caught in a “spiral of lies”.

Whistleblower

His misdemeanours were uncovered by a former Reyl employee turned whistleblower, who was later arrested in Switzerland under charges of breaking banking secrecy laws.

Several countries have turned up the heat on Switzerland in relation to tax evasion in recent years. The United States have indicted and prosecuted several individuals, made UBS pay a massive fine and forced banks Wegelin and Frey to stop trading.

Former UBS head of global wealth management Raoul Weil currently faces extradition to the US after being arrested in Italy last week.

Several CDs of stolen Swiss bank data have also been sold or given to various European countries.

Earlier this month it was revealed that four employees of the German branch of UBS bank were being investigated by the prosecutor’s office in the German city of Mannheim on suspicion of helping clients evade tax.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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