Thousands of French tax fraudsters come clean

Thousands of French nationals have informed the government they want to come clean about funds they have hidden illegally in secret bank accounts abroad, out of sight of the taxman in Paris, a minister revealed on Monday.

Thousands of French tax fraudsters come clean
Thousands of French tax fraudsters have applied to come clean. Photo: Philippe Huguen/AFP

The French tax service has seen a flood of requests to regularise funds hidden abroad, a minister said on Monday, as Switzerland has ended its vaunted banking secrecy under international pressure.

"I issued a circular this June which has led to today more than 8,500 fraudsters submitting applications to regularise their situation before the tax authorities, that is in three months more than the previous four years,"
Budget Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said on France Inter radio.

Cazaneuve's circular, which lowers the penalties for those who have hid funds abroad to come clean with French tax authorities, came as Swiss banks have pushed account holders to declare their funds at home as the Alpine
country ends its tradition of banking secrecy.

Switzerland has agreed to an international convention against tax fraud and signed an agreement with the United States on the automatic reporting of bank account information which is expected to become the standard model to discourage tax fraud.

The head of the Swiss Banking Association said last month that almost all French clients were taking advantage of the eased regularisation measured offered by Cazeneuve.

Sources have said that Swiss banks are giving French clients until March to declare their accounts or have them closed.

US authorities are investigating more than a dozen Swiss banks for abetting tax evasion.

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