France has signed a tax deal with Switzerland to gain banking information upon request.The agreement, which will come into effect at the beginning of January next year, means France’s tax authorities will be able to obtain access to the accounts of French citizens held in Switzerland. Earlier, French economy minister Christine Lagarde and Swiss President Hans-Rudolf Merz gave the final seal of approval to the fiscal arrangement. Lagarde said: ‘‘An amendment was signed that allows the exchange of information. Banking secrecy no longer constitutes a response or defence that would not allow the supply of this information.’‘ Switzerland is keen to improve its banking transparency. Only last week it signed a deal with the US disclosing the names of about 4,500 suspected tax dodgers at Swiss bank UBS. Switzerland has been told it must sign 12 bilateral tax treaties if it wants to be removed from an international ‘grey list’ of tax havens.