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Names of French with Swiss accounts turned in

Certain politicians in France might not sleep well in their beds tonight. A former banker in Switzerland has handed a list to French authorities which he claims contains the names of 15 prominent lawmakers who have secret Swiss bank accounts.

Names of French with Swiss accounts turned in
Pierre Condamin-Gerbier Photo: Screen capture LCI television

A former official with Swiss bank Reyl et Cie who claimed he knew of 15 French politicians and "big names" with undeclared bank accounts in Switzerland said on Wednesday he had submitted the list to investigators.

Pierre Condamin-Gerbier was a witness before a parliamentary commission investigating former Budget Minister Jerome Cahuzac, who resigned in disgrace in March over an undeclared foreign bank account said to contain around €600,000. Cahuzac is now facing charges of tax fraud.

"The list and information… were transmitted yesterday to French justice," Condamin-Gerbier, who worked at Reyl et Cie between 2006 and 2010, told the commission.

He had earlier said the list contained a number of well-known names. Condamin-Gerbier had refused to name the holders of the banks accounts when he appeared before parliament insisting the responsibility lay with the investigators.

"I can simply say that very big names in French politics figure on this list, people whose faces we are used to seeing on television. These are personalities far better known to the public than Cahuzac," he told newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche last month.

Condamin-Gerbier has also said the family of a serving minister had funds in Switzerland for several years.

Last week, Cahuzac was heard by the same committee in the French parliament. He attempted to clear up any suspicion over whether President François Hollande and Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, knew of his bank account by insisting he did not tell "the truth to anyone".

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How one man robbed dozens of French banks

A man who swindled French banks and businesses into giving him millions of euros was sentenced in absentia to seven years in jail on Wednesday. And his victims revealed in court exactly how the smooth talker operated.

How one man robbed dozens of French banks
French bank LCL (Le Credit Lyonnais) was among those targeted. Photo: AFP
Gilbert Chikli, 49, who fled to Israel in 2009 after being charged, was the mastermind of a scheme which saw him fleece some of France's top companies, and is the subject of an international arrest warrant.
   
During the trial, a former director of the Credit Lyonnais bank — now known as LCL — gave the court a run down of Chikli's scheme that convinced her to hand one million euros to a stranger in the bathroom of a Parisian bar.
   
First, a man introducing himself as the president of Credit Lyonnais called her and told her a secret services agent would shortly get hold of her and she should do everything he told her.
   
The agent explained he was working on a case involving money laundering and terrorism and needed her to transfer him money to dismantle a criminal network.
   
“He spoke about attacks, confidentiality, he isolates you. At the time I was under pressure at work and I wanted to do things properly,” she told the court.
   
Among the 33 banks and businesses targeted with the scheme between 2005 and 2006 were consulting group Accenture, which lost 5.9 million euros, the Post Office Bank, HSBC, aerospace firm Dassault, electricity and rail giant Alstom and chic Parisian department store Galeries Lafayette.
   
Some of the affected banks and companies that filed a civil suit were awarded €5.5 million ($6.1 million) in damages and interest.    
 
Two of the fourteen alleged accomplices involved in the trial were acquitted, while the others received fines or jail terms of up to four years in jail.
 
– 'Gift of the gab' –
 
Prosecutor Alice Cherif said Chikli used mental manipulation and harassment to wear down carefully chosen targets.
   
The technique “combines validation: 'I chose you for the mission' … and isolation: 'don't tell your colleagues, your family,” said the magistrate.   
 
The prosecutor said most of the 52 employees who were duped at the various companies had been fired.
   
Chikli managed to swindle a total of 60.5 million euros, 52.6 million euros of which was later recovered.
   
His story inspired a movie that is currently being filmed.
   
In 2010 he proudly told French television he was not a crook and that his scheme was a “game.”
   
“We contact businesses, banks, we pretend to be their president and with a rather extraordinary gift of the gab we manage to get large amounts of money.
   
“Either you have the gift or you don't. You could say I have the gift.”
   
The prosecutor said Chikli pioneered a hoax which had been adopted by copycat fraudsters and become a “scourge” in France, with 710 such cons worth 365 million euros having taken place since 2010, and nearly 1,000 others foiled.
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