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Swiss want to halt tax accord after data theft

Switzerland wants to suspend revisions to a tax accord with France in protest at the French authorities’ handling of account data stolen from a British bank in Geneva.

A former employee at the HSBC Private Bank branch in Geneva handed French tax authorities account data on what could prove to be nearly every client at the institution.

Finance Minister Hans-Rudolf Merz said on Tuesday that as a result Switzerland would halt ratification of the double taxation accord signed by Paris and Bern in August. It is one of 12 accords Switzerland signed to meet international transparency and cooperation standards, and had been transmitted to parliament for approval.

"In a state of law, this type of behaviour is unacceptable," Merz said.

French tax authorities said they now had the names of 130,000 clients from numerous countries who had accounts in Switzerland. France could use the data to encourage suspected tax cheats into coming forward by the end of the year with amnesty offers.

The informant has assumed a new name and is living in southern France under a witness protection programme.

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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