Swiss assistance possible even with stolen banking data

Switzerland's Supreme Court has ruled that legal assistance based on stolen bank client data is permitted in the case of suspected tax fraud in France Keystone

Switzerland’s Supreme Court has ruled that authorities can give legal assistance to France on suspected tax dodgers even if the client’s bank details were stolen from UBS France.

This content was published on March 13, 2017 minutes with agencies/ug

The decision by the country’s highest court on Monday annulled a previous one by the Federal Administrative Court in 2015.

The convention on double taxation with Paris does not exclude the possibility to grant legal assistance, as the Swiss law does not apply to cases of stolen banking data in France, the Supreme Court said.

A former employee with UBS France in 2010 forwarded a stolen list with about 600 bank clients to the French authorities, which filed two requests for legal assistance with the Swiss tax authorities.

A client successfully appealed against a verdict with the Federal Administrative Court which temporarily suspended legal assistance.

Automatic exchange

Requests for legal assistance reached a record number last year, according to the finance ministry. Most of the more than 66,500 applications came from neighbouring France, Spain, Poland, Sweden and the Netherlands.

Soon, countries with which Switzerland has signed agreements no longer need to request information on their citizens’ Swiss bank accounts. The data will be handed over automatically once a year.

However, this data can only be used for tax collection efforts and cannot be made public. Switzerland will begin collecting such data from 2017 onwards and begin sharing it with select countries from 2018.

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