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09.09.2015 01:49 Age: 2 days

France hands Cyprus controversial list of HSBC depositors


France has handed to Cypriot authorities a controversial list of Cypriots with deposits at HSBC bank in Switzerland, Finance Minister Harris Georgiades said on Tuesday, reports the Famagusta Gazette.

Cypriot parliamentarians probing the cause of the near melt-down of the economy in 2013 have repeatedly urged the government to obtain the so-called "Lagarde List" in anticipation that it will provide clues to people who may have sent abroad money obtained illegally.

But Georgiades told CyBC radio that foreign deposits are not illegal and details contained in the list cannot be made public unless legislation banning publication of personal data is amended.

"The list is currently being examined by the Chief Taxation Officer to confirm that those appearing on the list as Cypriots or with an address in Cyprus can justify the deposited amount," Georgiades said.

"It will be processed so as to verify that taxation has been paid for the amounts deposited in the bank," he added.

Georgiades said he would have no problem disclosing the names of people which will be found to be tax evaders after the examination of the list.

But the list has been forwarded to the speaker of the Cypriot Parliament, Yiannakis Omirou, for examination in the context of an ongoing investigation into the causes of Cyprus's economic disaster.

Lawmakers are demanding that any names in the list of "politically exposed people" -- meaning people holding state, government and party posts or are associated with the the banking system and the media -- must be made public.

It is to be expected that it will not be long before the list is leaked to the media as it happened with similar documents in the past.

The "Lagarde List" is part of a wider list, the Falciani list, named after Herve Falciani, an HSBC bank computer technician who stole the data from the computers of his employers from 2006 through 2007 and handed them to then French finance Minister Christine Lagarde.

It is believed the list contains about 80,000 names of people with deposits at the bank.

Georgiades said the list obtained by Cypriot authorities contains only the names of either Cypriot people or foreign physical and legal entities who had given the bank a correspondence address in Cyprus.

The "Lagarde List" became prominent when it was handed to the Greek government in 2012, then negotiating the country's bailout with international lenders.

It was leaked to a magazine which published it, causing a public outcry as it revealed that the names of some prominent people in the governing party were among depositors.

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France hands Cyprus controversial list of HSBC depositors