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Italy demands data on billions in suspect Swiss accounts

The information behind Italy’s request came from an earlier probe into Credit Suisse (Keystone)

Italian financial crime investigators have asked the Swiss authorities for help in tracking down the beneficial owners of €6.7 billion (CHF7.4 billion) held in Switzerland. The information came to light during an investigation by the Milan authorities into the activities of Credit Suisse.

In a statementexternal link issued on Thursday, the Guardia di Finanza said it wanted details on around 10,000 accounts. The Swiss tax administration said it would not comment on ongoing cases.

It was not revealed if all the suspect accounts related to Credit Suisse. But the Guardia di Finanza linked its request to an earlier investigation in Milan into tax evasion suspicions of Italian clients of the bank.

Last year, Credit Suisse agreed to pay €109.5 million to settle the probe into its activities between 2008 and 2015. “Credit Suisse considers the investigation by the Italian authorities into Credit Suisse’s cross-border business as closed,” the bank told Reuters on Thursday.

A subsequent tax amnesty in Italy rooted out 3,297 accounts, resulting in tax bills and fines of €173 million for those who came forward. But the latest move suggests that the Italian authorities are not content to leave the matter there.

This is not the first time Switzerland has been confronted with requests to help tax evasion investigations in other countries. France, Sweden, the Netherlands and Spain have all previously lodged such requests.

Previously dismissed as ‘fishing expeditions’ these group requests have received the backing of Swiss courts in the last 12 months, opening up the doors for client data to be handed over.

At the start of this year, Swiss banks started collating the data of all non-Swiss clients in preparation of an automatic handover of such information to foreign tax authorities from 2018.



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