American in Paris protest over undeclared Swiss bank account

The retiree hopes to draw the attention of French senators, claiming his mother is being prevented from declaring her Swiss bank account

The account number is on the back of Mr Fournie’s placard
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An American retiree has been staging a protest over an ‘undeclared Swiss bank account’ by standing in front of the French senate for more than 350 hours.

David Fournie, 55, who lives in Paris, started his action on September 2 by the corner of Rue de Tournon and Rue de Vaugirard with a sign reading: “Dear Mr. President: I still hold an undeclared Swiss account. Should I be worried?”

Mr Fournie has been there every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, as well as various other days, in the hope that his placard will attract interest from senators and advance his case, which concerns more than $1million in a Swiss account.

Ironic and provocative

The sign is meant as both an ironic and provocative suggestion that France has failed in its policy to take down every undeclared Swiss account.

“If I was a serial killer, it would be like dumping the body at the police station,” Mr Fournie told The Connexion.

He is tangled up between the US, France and Switzerland over an account held by LGT Bank AG that was left to his 89-year-old mother Micheline Fournie, a French citizen with a US residency permit, by her father more than a decade ago.

The US has urged Ms Fournie to declare the account to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) as part of Fatca, a law intended to combat tax evasion by US citizens living abroad, which requires all US citizens and their banks to report their income and assets to the IRS.

Mr and Ms Fournie – who want to declare the account – have been unable to do so since LGT Bank AG has shielded itself behind banking secrecy laws using loopholes and deceitful tactics, Mr Fournie claims.

His mother has requested information about the account and its management over the years before declaring it, which they say the bank has refused to provide.

Proof of more undeclared accounts

The account is proof that more undeclared Swiss accounts go unreported, said Mr Fournie, whose own situation contradicts a statement from LGT Bank AG in 2012 asserting that it no longer had US clients.

France requested information about the account in 2017 but the inquiry was terminated without any follow-up in 2022, he said, adding that he was “surprised the French government never followed through.”

Mr Fournie’s protest is meant to highlight the truth behind politicians’ claims that France’s fight against tax-evasion is a success, he said, referring to former president Nicolas Sarkozy’s statement at the G20 in 2009 that “fiscal paradises and tax-evasion are over.”

From now on, Mr Fournie said he will continue raising his sign before the Senate.

He posted senators a card with a picture of him wishing them Happy New Year that never got an answer.

“How long can I stand in front of the Senate with this sign? It’s grotesque,” he said.

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