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In tax evasion hunt, Australia finds scores of Swiss accounts still active

SYDNEY, April 5 Hundreds of secret Swiss bank accounts identified by Australian authorities as part of a global tax evasion and money laundering investigation are still in use, a top tax official said on Wednesday.

Coordinated raids on scores of suspicious bank accounts began last week in Australia, the Netherlands, Britain, Germany and France, with at least two arrests so far.

Australian regulators are making inquiries on a list of 1,000 individuals that was provided to them by their Dutch counterparts. Out of that, Australia has already identified more than 340 and is still making inquiries to expose the remainder.

"This seems to be a more current list," Michael Cranston, Deputy Commissioner, Australian Tax Office told Reuters by phone. "Our understanding is some are active accounts. The information we've got suggests a lot of them would be active over the last year or two."

Cranston declined to specify those being investigated, only saying that one Swiss bank was at the centre of the investigation.

Swiss bank Credit Suisse came out last week to reveal its offices in London, Paris and Amsterdam were contacted by local authorities concerning client tax matters.

In Australia, the surveillance is being carried out by the Serious Financial Crime Task Force (SFCT), of which the ATO is a part.

"We're actually making inquiries with those taxpayers. We'll make the necessary adjustments and impose the necessary penalties," Cranston said.

"If we find links to accountants as facilitators, they may be subject to criminal investigation. It all depends on what we find." (Reporting by Swati Pandey; Editing by Randy Fabi)

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