Canada probes HSBC bank accounts in Switzerland

France has passed on information about Canadian-registered Swiss HSBC bank accounts to Ottawa as part of a tax evasion investigation, the Canadian government says.

This content was published on October 1, 2010 minutes and agencies

Authorities are looking into accounts obtained from a former HSBC worker who allegedly stole the records from the bank and handed them over to investigators. Canadian tax authorities are working with the French investigators.

“This is just another example of how our government is taking action to crack down on people who unfairly exploit offshore accounts,” said Keith Ashfield, minister of National Revenue in a statement on Thursday.

HSBC, Europe's largest bank, said it was cooperating with the investigation.

While it is not illegal for Canadians to hold Swiss bank accounts, they must declare all their income to Canadian tax authorities.

The Canadian move is the latest step against tax evaders and Swiss banking secrecy.
The Swiss government was, for example, last year forced to work out a deal to hand over the confidential data of 4,450 UBS clients to the United States.

France has offered the HSBC data to several other European countries, while Germany has also bought information from separate sources that was stolen from Swiss banks.

Switzerland last month adopted an ordinance against offering administrative assistance to countries in stolen bank data cases.

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