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C.Suisse says stolen data not from its clients

Source: Reuters - Thu 4th Feb 2010

Credit Suisse has no indications that data Germany wants to buy, which was stolen from an unnamed Swiss bank, stemmed from its accounts, the bank's vice-chairman was quoted as saying on Thursday.

"We have no kind of indication at the moment that point to Credit Suisse data being in question" Urs Rohner said in an interview with Swiss business website Cash.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble sent shockwaves through the Swiss private banking industry this week when he said Berlin was prepared to pay for stolen data belonging to potential tax dodgers at a Swiss bank.

Switzerland should defend itself in the current spat with Germany, Rohner said, saying Germany's behaviour constituted "a large political risk."

"I am clearly of the opinion that the government should keep a strong resolve against this and agree to no concessions" he said. "From a legal and political point of view, I think it is dubious when friendly states treat each other in this way."

No one from Credit Suisse was immediately available to confirm Rohner's comments.

European states lined up behind German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday to expose tax cheats in a combined assault on the Swiss banking secrecy laws that help protect them.

Swiss Finance Minister Hans-Rudolf Merz responded by saying the Swiss would not help Germany or others hunt tax cheats on the basis of stolen Swiss bank data, but tried to defuse the escalating row by saying Berne would not retaliate.

But the row rumbled on Thursday as a person familiar with the matter told Reuters that Germany's most populous state, North Rhine-Westphalia, had made final checks on stolen bank data belonging to potential tax cheats and was ready to buy the information. 

Credit Suisse's domestic rivals UBS and Julius Baer have declined to comment on the affair, alongside HSBC's private bank in Geneva, which was implicated in a row with France over stolen data last year.

Shares in Credit Suisse were down 2.1 percent at 0932 GMT (9:32 a.m. British time), broadly in line with the DJ Stoxx European banking index .SX7P.

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