Thursday, July 8, 2010

France aims to use leaked data to prosecute tax evaders

Details surrounding the acquisition and transfer of client information from HSBC’s Swiss private-banking arm have placed a Franco-Italian computer engineer and colleague at the center of a dispute between Switzerland and France. While Switzerland objects to the use of data that it claims was stolen, France intends to use the data to prosecute potential tax cheats and has even shared the information with other countries.

Although some evidence indicates that the computer engineer and colleague were attempting to sell the client banking information, France insists that it did not pay for the data and rather attained it lawfully. The data was in fact acquired by French authorities acting at the request of a Swiss prosecutor to conduct a search.

Regardless of the details of the data’s acquisition, the release of client information and the ensuing international dispute over legitimacy has, as The Wall Street Journal writes, “rocked the banking world.” Tax evaders in Italy, Spain, and the U.K. may soon face prosecution as a result of this data leak.