French receive account details of tax suspects

France has reportedly received a list of 3,000 French suspected tax evaders with bank accounts in Switzerland, according to the newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche.

This content was published on August 30, 2009 - 11:12

The news comes after Switzerland and France signed a revised double taxation agreement on Thursday, making it easier for the two countries to exchange banks' customer information.

However, the Swiss finance ministry has said that the handing over details was not linked to the accord. "This agreement is not yet in force and has to be put before parliament," spokesman Rolan Meier told the Swiss News Agency.

The French budget minister, Eric Woerth, was quoted in the French newspaper as saying the accounts contained some €3 billion (SFr 4.55 billion), "some of which is very likely linked to tax evasion."

Woerth called on the account holders to come forward and bring their tax affairs in order by the end of the year. He ruled out an amnesty for tax evaders.

"That would be an indefensible injustice," he said according to the interview published on the paper's web site.

Earlier this month Switzerland agreed to give the United States the names of 4,450 American taxpayers suspected of setting up secret offshore accounts with the help of Swiss bank UBS.

The deal was part of a settlement to end a long-running US investigation against UBS, which became the focus of Washington's efforts to crack down on tax evaders.

European countries, led by France and Germany, have demanded similar access to information about their citizens with Swiss bank accounts.

A meeting of the 30-nation Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development in April agreed to impose economic sanctions against those countries which refused to abide by its tax guidelines.

The Swiss government has since pledged to sign a dozen new or revised tax information exchange agreements, but maintains that the country's banking secrecy rules will remain. and agencies

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