Media leaks on HSBC accounts held in Switzerland “are only the tip of the iceberg,” Herve Falciani, the former HSBC employee who supplied information on the bank’s clients and their tax situation, told French daily Le Parisien.
Falciani said tax authorities have had access to much more data than media including French daily Le Monde and International Consortium of Investigative Journalists had.
Asked if more clients were involved than the 106,000 identified by Le Monde, Falciani said: “Of course, there are many more than the journalists had. There were millions of transactions (between banks) in the documents I gave (to the government).”
HSBC client data obtained by Falciani, who used to work in IT at HSBC’s Swiss subsidiary, is at the center of a storm over the British bank.
HSBC on Sunday admitted failings in compliance and controls in its Swiss private bank and faces investigation by U.S. authorities and an inquiry by British lawmakers after media reports said it helped wealthy customers conceal millions of dollars of assets in a period up to 2007.
French authorities have repeated since the latest media leaks they had already been looking into HSBC’s Swissaccounts.
Questioned by lawmakers about what the French government was doing with the leaked data, Budget MinisterChristian Eckert said the government had passed more than 100 cases to judicial authorities.
The French government says it is now collecting 2.0 billion euros ($US2.3 billion) per year in tax and fines from people who are coming clean with accounts held abroad which they had previously hidden from tax authorities.
More work needs to be done at an international level on “tax optimisation” by global multinationals, Eckert told the lawmakers.
He had told Europe 1 radio earlier on Tuesday that it was hard to say how widespread the question of hidden bankaccounts was. “It’s hard to quantify what is hidden,” he said.
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