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Switzerland Suspends DTA With France

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

18 December 2009

In a shock announcement, Swiss President Hans-Rudolf Merz said that Switzerland is to suspend ratification of the double taxation agreement (DTA) with France, in protest against news that France has recovered information stolen by a former employee of an HSBC bank in Geneva.

Formally noting Switzerland’s decision, France nevertheless remains eager to complete the process.

Switzerland and France signed an amendment to their existing DTA at the end of August, providing for an exchange of information in specific cases of tax fraud, thus lifting the veil of traditional banking secrecy in Switzerland. The agreement was then transferred to parliament for approval.

Outraged at revelations that France has obtained the names of several thousands of French taxpayers suspected of tax fraud by illegal means, Switzerland has taken a firm stance and elected to block the ratification process.

Determined to shed light on the affair, Switzerland’s Justice Minister, Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, has revealed that a formal complaint will be sent to France.

A comprehensive report in our Intelligence Report series, examining in depth the situation of offshore transparency and secrecy in a number of the most prominent jurisdictions, is available in the Lowtax Library at and a description of the report can be seen at

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