JERUSALEM, Feb 12 (Reuters) - Israel's tax authority said on Thursday it was working to obtain the details of thousands of Israelis with accounts at the Swiss arm of HSBC, after the bank admitted failings that may have allowed some customers to evade taxes.
According to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which this week coordinated the release of leaked client data, Israel ranked sixth among 203 countries, with 6,554 Israelis holding accounts worth $10 billion.
"We have tried to receive the data from authorities. We tried in various ways, direct and indirect, but we didn't get it," said Idit Lev-Zerahia, a spokeswoman for the Israel Tax Authority. "We are now renewing our efforts."
Moshe Asher, the head of the authority, told the Globes financial newspaper he was rebuffed by French authorities when trying to get the details but that the tax authority was "determined to obtain this list."
Having a Swiss bank account is not illegal in Israel, as long as it is reported to authorities.
Israeli newspapers have reported that among Israelis on the list were bank owners and directors, diamond and real estate moguls, retired military officers, public and private company heads, well-known lawyers, a "popular" TV presenter, artists, soccer players, sport agents, a retired judge and a former prosecutor. (Additional reporting by Ori Lewis and Maayan Lubell; Editing by Mark Potter)