ZURICH (Reuters) - Switzerland and France have smoothed over concerns which had blocked the exchange of tax data between the two countries, a boost to French efforts to pursue cash hidden from the taxman.
The way in which data sent over by Switzerland was used in a French legal case involving UBS (UBSG.S), Switzerland’s biggest bank, had raised concerns for the Swiss that the two countries differed in their understandings of their double taxation agreement (DTA).
DTAs are in place to try to prevent double taxation and also set ground rules for administrative assistance in tax matters.
Switzerland was waiting to clarify the situation before exchanging further information.
The relevant Swiss and French authorities have now resolved these concerns, the Swiss Federal Tax Administration (FTA) said on Wednesday, without disclosing what issues had been clarified.
“They are now in a position to pursue the exchange of information upon request in all pending and future cases effectively,” the FTA said in a statement.
France’s budget minister, Gerald Darmanin, welcomed the progress saying “a difference of understanding regarding procedure” had hampered the exchange of information in recent months but that this was now resolved.
“Exchanges between the two countries have resumed on this basis and will enable France to conduct the necessary work on investigations underway and those in the future,” the minister said in a statement.
Since the financial crisis, cash-strapped governments around the world have clamped down on tax evasion, with authorities investigating Swiss banks in Germany, France and the United States.
Switzerland’s tradition of banking secrecy has helped to make it the world’s biggest offshore financial centre, with more than $2 trillion in foreign wealth kept with the country’s banks.
Additional reporting by Emmanuel Jarry and Richard Lough in Paris, editing by Pritha Sarkar and Richard Balmforth