In July, French authorities had asked their Swiss counterparts to provide client information of banking giant UBS for international administrative assistance in May, reports French daily Le Parisien.
The demand concerns former and current clients living in France, based on data from 2006 to 2008.
Le Parisien on Monday published extracts of a letter dated May 11 from French tax authorities. It said that France was chasing the names of owners of ‘more than 45,161 different account numbers’.
“The assets of those listed totalled more than 11 billion Swiss francs (11 billion dollars), which could represent a several billion dollar shortfall for the French treasury,” the letter said, reported Le Parisien.
The daily further added that French authorities have identified 4,782 accounts and are seeking the owners of an additional 40,379 accounts.
Former employees of the bank blew the whistle over the bank’s alleged system of setting up dual accounts to hide the movement of capital into Switzerland between 2004 and 2012, thus provoking a probe by France.
UBS has denied the accusations, arguing that its involvement in such financial operations has not been proven.
Documents handed over to French judges last year by Germany has allowed Paris authorities to evaluate the assets of French clients held by the bank in 2008 at nearly 12 billion euros ($13.5 billion), said a source close to the investigation. However, not all cases involved tax evasion.
UBS has a history of being embroiled in similar cases, most notably in the United States where authorities said the bank used Switzerland’s banking secrecy laws to help rich clients avoid the taxman.