(follow-up) France stands by use of stolen bank data

France’s use of HSBC client data stolen by a former HSBC employer continues to create international tension. France maintains that they have obtained the information legally and can use it, while HSBC and the Swiss government do not see the data as having been legally obtained. Peggy Hollinger reports

France said yesterday that it had committed no crime in using a stolen list of Swiss bank accounts to track French tax evaders as a row between Bern and Paris over banking secrecy intensified.

“France is committing no fraud, the tax evaders are,” said Eric Woerth, budget minister, in an interview on Canal Plus. “What counts is that we obtained [the information] legally.”

Switzerland has threatened to suspend ratification of a new bilateral tax treaty agreed with France in September over the decision by French fiscal authorities to use a list stolen from HSBC in Geneva by a former employee.

Read more on Financial Times.

Reuters reports that in an interview with the Swiss newspaper SonntagsZeitung, Alexandre Zeller, CEO of HSBC Private Bank (Suisse) said:

“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.”

HSBC confirmed earlier this month that an ex-employee stole client data from its Swiss private bank in 2006 and 2007. [Former HSBC IT specialist Herve] iFalciani later identified himself as that ex-employee.

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