The Swiss tax authority has ordered Switzerland’s largest bank UBS to turn over information linked to a French investigation.
The Zurich-based bank said it received a disclosure order from the Swiss Federal Tax Administration (FTA) to transfer information based on a French request for international administrative assistance in tax matters.
“The request concerns a number of UBS account numbers pertaining to current and former French domiciled clients and is based on data from 2006 and 2008,” the bank said in a statement posted on its website. “Since then, the client base underlying the data has changed significantly and a large number of the accounts affected by the French request are closed.”
While the request stems from the double taxation agreement between Switzerland and France, UBS said it expressed concern to the FTA that “the legal grounds for this request are ambiguous at best”.
UBS was placed under formal investigation in France in 2014 over allegations that it had helped wealthy French customers evade the taxman.
French tax authorities based their request on data received from the German authorities, the bank said. German investigations have resulted in seizures of tax data about UBS clients booked in Switzerland – most of it pertaining to mortgage and pension accounts.
That data was “apparently shared with other European countries”, UBS said, adding that it now expects other countries to file requests similar to what France has done.
Starting in 2017, all Swiss banks will have to provide data to French and other tax authorities on an annual basis.