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Norwegian hid $300m in secret Swiss account

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Norwegian hid $300m in secret Swiss account
The HSBC building at Canary Wharf. Photo: Elliott Brown/Flickr
19:55 CET+01:00
A single client associated with Norway had $293.4m parked in a Swiss bank account with the international banking giant HSBC, new ‘Swiss Leaks' data has revealed, more than all the other Norwegian clients with secret accounts at the bank combined.
The Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), along with an international coalition of newspapers, on Sunday published a searchable database of data from the 2007 leak. 
 
The published data shows that 115 clients "associated with Norway" had together stashed some  $457.6m at the bank in 314 separate accounts in the bank, presumably aiming to escape the Norwegian taxman. Of those 45 percent had a Norwegian passport or nationality. 
 
This was less than any other country in Western Europe apart from Finland and Iceland, somewhat surprisingly given the country's ample crop of oil and shipping billionaires. 
 
The neighbouring Danes had squirrelled away $700m at the bank, while the Swedes had put away nearly $1bn.  The top European nationalities, the Swiss, the British, and the French, had hidden $31.2bn, $21.7bn and $12.7bn respectively in the bank's Swiss division.  
 
The mystery Norwegian was not among the 61 prominent figures named in the data published on Sunday, who included businessmen, politicians as well as celebrities such as Christian Slater, Elle Macpherson, Phil Collins, and Swedish footballer  Andreas Andersson. 
 
This could be because the account was one of the roughly 30 percent of Norway-linked accounts which was linked only to a number. Approximately 50 percent were linked to named individuals with the remainder linked to "offshore entities".  
 
According to Aftenposten, Norway’s Tax Administration now plans to request that Switzerland provide it with the leaked data so that it can ascertain if any of those holding accounts have broken Norwegian law. 
 
According to the newspaper, it is not illegal to have money in a secret Swiss bank account, meaning many of the 111 Norwegians clients may not have broken the law. 
 
Described as the biggest banking leak in history, the information includes details of 30,000 accounts with total assets of around $120 billion.
 
The documents, which cover a period up to 2007 when they were stolen by Hervé Falciani, a former IT worker at HSBC in Geneva, who fled to France.
 
The ICIJ has been analysing the data since September 2014. 
 
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