The shadowy world of Swiss banking is under pressure today, amid claims that a list of French citizens with secret accounts has found its way to Paris. French authorities insisted it is not a bluff, but the Swiss Banks’ Association cast doubt on the authenticity of such a list. Tax lawyers agree such information would be hard to extract from the normally close-mouthed Swiss system.
“It’s difficult to say if Paris is bluffing or not, but I can say that theoretically there is no simple way the French authorities could have obtained this type of information,” said French tax lawyer Didier Barsus. “The law simply doesn’t allow for that.” Switzerland has long guarded its reputation for neutrality, especially in banking, but wants to get off an international “grey list” of suspected tax havens. Foreign governments, led by the United States, want to know if people are evading tax by hoarding money offshore. A deal between Switzerland and France to share banking information comes into effect in the new year.