Authorities in Greece have found a missing data compact disc containing the names of Greek clients with Swiss bank accounts, according to Swiss media reports.
The head of the Greek financial police, Stelios Stasinopoulos, reportedly handed the data over to the country’s chief prosecutor yesterday. It took the Greek government almost a week to locate the CD, with the support of intelligence agencies and two former finance ministers, reports said.
The story, if confirmed, is yet another case of Swiss bank data being leaked; in at least one case, the German government has purchased such data, provoking concerns about governments’ respect for due process of law in their hunt for tax evaders.
Reports of the Greek case said that the CD, which the Greek government acquired in 2010 via then-French finance minister Christine Lagarde, was originally obtained by a worker at the Geneva branch of the bank HSBC along with other data pertaining to Greek clients. It contains the name of roughly 2,000 Greeks with money in Swiss banks.
Greek authorities long believed that they would no longer be able to use the data on the CD, even if it were to be found. Two weeks ago, acting finance minister Giorgos Mavraganis told Greek parliament that using the data would amount to “industrial espionage”.
However, on Monday this week, Greek finance minister Yannis Stournaras told the Financial Times newspaper that his government would make catching tax evaders a top priority, with the help of the CD obtained in 2010. He then said that if the CD could not be found, the Greek government would ask its “European partners” for help in finding another copy.