Tax

Greek Authorities Find Swiss Account Data On CD

Tom Burroughes, Group Editor, London, 3 October 2012

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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.

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