France says 16,000 declare hidden bank accounts

PARIS - France said Wednesday that nearly 16,000 people had declared funds hidden abroad after Switzerland ended its vaunted banking secrecy.

Budget Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said the government was on track to collect 230 million euros (S$398 million) from only 2,621 of the cases.

He told the finance committee of the lower house National Assembly that 80 per cent of the newly declared accounts were from Switzerland, which has curtailed its banking secrecy traditions under international pressure.

Another seven per cent of the accounts were from Luxembourg, Cazeneuve said.

France in June announced lower penalties for those who came forward and reported hidden accounts.

French officials have said the state could collect as much as one billion euros in the operations.