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37,000+ French tax dodgers admit owning secret accounts abroad

French Finance Minister Michel Sapin with Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis who is also trying to chase up tax dodgers
French Finance Minister Michel Sapin with Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis who is also trying to chase up tax dodgers Reuters/Philippe Wojazer
2 min

Nearly 38,000 French tax dodgers have come forward since 2013 when the Socialist government offered favourable treatment to secret foreign-account holders who owned up. The number of tax inspectors handling such cases has been quadrupled to cope with the surge in cases.

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A total of 37,703 people have filed revised tax forms after admitting to holding secret bank accounts abroad, mainly in Switzerland, the finance ministry revealed on Wednesday.

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

The response, boosted by the Swissleaks revelations of over 100,000 people worldwide with secret accounts with the HSBC bank, has overwhelmed tax inspectors.

They have only closed 5,181 cases, working at a rate of 130 cases a week.

Their numbers have been increased from 25 to about 100 and seven new offices are to be opened in June, three in the Paris region and one each in the major cities of Marseille, Lyon, Bordeaux and Strasbourg, the ministry announced.

They will handle "the least complex cases" - accounts held by individuals, rather than trusts and holding companies, that contain less than 600,000 euros.

More than half of the declarations, 20,736, came with a first payment.

Finance Minister Michel Sapin hailed a "considerable success", which brought in two billion euros in 2014 and is expected to net the same amount this year.

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