Geneva: Data was stolen from HSBC’s Swiss branch last year, the head of a Swiss banking association said on Wednesday, amid media reports that some names of alleged French tax evaders was obtained by France through theft.
“This case goes back to 2008, when there was theft of banking data at HSBC Geneva, but that concerns only a small amount of data,” Martin Maurer, who heads Switzerland’s association of foreign banks, said.
“The bank did not file charges then due to the small number of details” stolen, he added.
The daily Le Parisien reported earlier on Wednesday that an employee of the Geneva branch of HSBC Private Bank stole a list of customers towards the end of 2008 and fled to France, where he is living under judicial protection in the Nice area.
It added that HSBC has filed a complaint at the Swiss federal prosecutor’s office.
In August, France announced that it has a list of 3,000 of its citizens which it alleges are hiding behind Swiss banking secrecy laws to conceal the profits of tax evasion and in some cases launder the proceeds of crime.
HSBC declined comment on the issue, but said that the bank would soon issue a statement.
Switzerland’s federal prosecutor’s office was not immediately available for comment, while the Swiss finance ministry said it “would not comment on an ongoing case.”
The case is reminiscent of a massive tax fraud probe in Liechtenstein where an employee of the LGT bank stole data of foreign clients and sold the list to German authorities.