Just days after striking a deal with France on banking secrecy Switzerland has handed over thousands of account details to French tax investigators.
It is not clear which banks are involved, but in a newspaper interview the Swiss budget minister said some of the 3,000 accounts under scrutiny are “probably” linked to tax evasion.
Eric Woerth said that when the investigation was completed the severest penalties would be applied.
The minister also indicated that some account holders could face prosecution. “So I would encourage all French citizens to get their affairs in order,” he added.
The agreement is part of Swiss efforts to be removed from a so-called “grey list” of tax havens, drawn up by the international economic monitoring body, the OECD.
Swiss financial journalist Myret Zaki said: “There are 3,000 accounts amounting to three billion euros. That’s about a million euros per customer, so these aren’t the really big counts, the big customers. For those you have ….. specialist foundations, specially created trusts, sophisticated structures that remain watertight against French investigation. That’s where the billions are.”
Switzerland is the world’s biggest offshore banking centre. In March, under pressure from the G20 group of world economies it agreed to relax its banking secrecy and to share certain account details with other jurisdictions.