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Swiss federal tribunal refuses to help French tax authorities

Summary:
© Steeve Baillon – Dreamstime.com Tribune de Genève. The French tax authorities will not get Swiss help to investigate tax payers identified in data taken by Hervé Falciani from HSBC private bank in Geneva. HSBC, owner of the private bank in Geneva, which became part of HSBC in 1999 when it was acquired from Republic National Bank, ...

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Swiss federal tribunal refuses to help French tax authorities

© Steeve Baillon – Dreamstime.com

Tribune de Genève.

The French tax authorities will not get Swiss help to investigate tax payers identified in data taken by Hervé Falciani from HSBC private bank in Geneva.

HSBC, owner of the private bank in Geneva, which became part of HSBC in 1999 when it was acquired from Republic National Bank, a group run by Lebanese-born financier Edmond Safra, described the data taken from the bank in 2008, as stolen, reported the BBC.

In addition, Falciani was later accused of selling the information, according to a report by Tages Anzeiger.

He was eventually sentenced by Swiss courts to 5 years in prison.

Meanwhile, the French tax authorities found in the data, the name a of couple with French nationality, who are suspected of evading French taxes.

In 2014, the Swiss Federal Tax Administration granted assistance to France with information on the couple. Recently, Switzerland’s Federal Tribunal ruled against assisting the French authorities, like the Federal Administrative Court had before it in 2015.

The Federal Tribunal ruled that Bern should not help France because its request for administrative assistance related to stolen data, information obtained by actions punishable under Swiss law. The ruling by the  Federal Tribunal, sometimes referred to as Mon Repos1 after the park in Lausanne surrounding it, rejects the application by the Swiss Federal Tax Administration and affirms the decision of the Federal Administrative Court.

The illegality of the sourcing of the Falciani data is indisputable as the former HSBC computer specialist was  sentenced to 5 years in prison by the Federal Criminal Court of Switzerland in 2015, said the Federal Tribunal.

Last March, in a case related to UBS France, the Federal Tribunal decided in favour of a French request for administrative assistance, saying that the request did not rest on information obtained illegally under Swiss law, and no criminal proceedings had been opened in France in relation to information related to the affair published in the French press.

More on this:
Tribune de Genève article (in French) – Take a 5 minute French test now
Press release from the Swiss Federal Tribunal – opens PDF – (in French)
Press release from the Swiss Federal Tribunal – opens PDF – (in German)
1 Switzerland’s Federal Tribunal operates from two locations, one in Luzern and another in Lausanne.

 


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