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HSBC executive says stolen data "incomplete"

Client data stolen from the offshore private banking headquarters of Britain’s HSBC bank in Geneva was incomplete and inaccurate, a bank executive has said.

The data, taken by Herve Falciani, a former information technology specialist, in 2006 and 2007, has been handed over to French tax authorities and has cast doubt over the ratification of a tax treaty between the two countries.

"What we have seen so far is a list with seven names. ... The data from Falciani that I have seen are incomplete and inaccurate," Alexandre Zeller, CEO of HSBC’s Swiss private banking operations, said in an interview with the SonntagsZeitung newspaper.

"The person, who we employed for eight years, took the data from various systems and tried to put them together like a puzzle. It is difficult to evaluate this data both from a technical and legal point of view."

In an interview with the French newspaper Le Figaro, Falciani claimed he told the Swiss authorities of the extent of his findings in 2006, but the authorities in Bern did not contact him in return.

HSBC confirmed earlier this month that an ex-employee stole client data from its Swiss private bank in 2006 and 2007. Falciani later identified himself as that ex-employee.

The bank has filed a criminal complaint with the Swiss authorities.

Swiss Finance Minister Hans-Rudolf Merz last week asked parliament to suspend the French tax deal until there was more clarity about what happened.

Switzerland has promised to enter new tax treaties that would allow it to share bank client information in some cases of tax evasion in the wake of a global crackdown on tax havens. France and Switzerland signed one such treaty in August, but it has yet to be ratified by parliament.

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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