Switzerland says it is to freeze a double tax agreement with France signed last August – the latest twist in a Franco-Swiss financial dispute.
It follows the recent disclosure that Paris obtained allegedly stolen data from the private headquarters in Geneva of British banking giant HSBC.
Last week, HSBC confirmed an ex-employee had taken a list of client names, enabling French tax authorities to pile pressure on Bern.
Switzerland’s Finance Minister Hans-Rudolph Merz said: ‘‘Yes, we signed a double tax agreement with France. At that time it was apparently already known that the French government had received illegal data. These circumstances have to be clarified thoroughly now. Before it becomes clear what really happened it can’t be expected that any decisions to implement this tax agreement will be taken.’‘
Despite the diplomatic fallout, the French government has defended its role in the affair.
“ I do not understand why the Swiss are shocked by the current situation. France was not all responsible for the way in which this information was acquired from the HSBC bank in Switzerland,’‘
said Didier Migaud, French MP and Finances Commission Chairman.
The deal in August paved the way for France to gain banking information from Switzerland upon request in its fight to catch tax cheats
But, it is still to be ratified by the Swiss Parliament, throwing the whole agreement into doubt.