France seeks details on Vieira’s Swiss bank account

Tax officials in Switzerland said France has asked for information relating to a Swiss bank account held, or once held, by retired French soccer star Patrick Vieira.

Under the terms of a bilateral treaty, France may ask Switzerland for judicial aid in cases where tax is paid in two different countries on the same income, or in cases where tax evasion or fraud is suspected.

Tackling tax evasion is an issue that François Hollande, the French president, is pushing hard to help trim public debt without further stifling France’s recession-stricken economy and because of a tax scandal involving a former government minister.

The request regarding Vieira — first conveyed on December 23 — related to an account at Swiss bank UBS, Switzerland’s AFC federal tax administration said in a statement.

No further information was available, including whether the account was still open or why officials were only making the request public now.

“The AFC is passing on the requested information, received from the holder of the information, UBS in Switzerland, to the relevant French authorities,” the statement said.

A representative for Vieira said the 38-year-old former soccer player, now in a non-playing role at Manchester City, was not available for comment.

Last month, Swiss officials said they were cooperating with the French in connection with a Swiss bank account of Vieira’s former France teammate Claude Makelele.

Vieira began his professional career with French side AS Cannes and went on to establish himself as one of the top midfield players in the game.

Over an 18-year career, Vieira played for some of soccer’s biggest clubs. He was part of France’s victorious World Cup and European Championship winning teams in 1998 and 2000, respectively, and captained Arsenal in 2003 to 2004 when the side became the first English team in more than a century to go an entire league season undefeated.

After retiring in 2011, he worked as Manchester City’s football development executive for two years before becoming head of the club’s development squad in 2013.

French junior budget minister Christian Eckert said on May 22 that 23,191 taxpayers had declared “secret” bank accounts to the authorities over the previous 12 months.

— Reuters



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