France contradicts British account of HSBC files

France’s finance minister said yesterday that Paris had not restricted the use of HSBC client data it passed on to UK authorities to help pursue tax evaders, contradicting comments by a senior British official.

France contradicts British account of HSBC files

Britain’s financial secretary to the Treasury, David Gauke, said in the British parliament this week that France had provided leaked information on accounts at the British bank “under very strict conditions”.

In response, Michel Sapin told Le Monde he “did not understand” Gauke’s remarks.

“The HSBC data were sent to them in 2010 under our bilateral conventions,” Sapin said. “If the British tax authorities wanted to open a court case, they most certainly could. Then it’s a matter of judicial co-operation.”

France has had access to leaked HSBC client data since 2008, according to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which co-ordinated the release of details.

HSBC has admitted failings in compliance and controls at its Swiss bank after the ICIJ organised the simultaneous publication of client names and details by several media outlets.

Gauke said British tax authorities were seeking data from the ICIJ as the data it received from France was restricted in use.

“HMRC received the HSBC data under very strict conditions,” he said.

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