Swiss, French resolve spat on stolen HSBC data

28th January 2010, Comments 0 comments

The spat over data stolen from HSBC Geneva has been resolved after France sent copies of the stolen data to Switzerland and promise the data would not be transmitted to other countries.

Davos – Switzerland and France have resolved a spat over data stolen from the Geneva-branch of banking giant HSBC, Swiss Finance Minister Hans-Rudolf Merz said Wednesday.

"We have found an accord concerning the stolen data," Merz told Swiss news agency ATS after meeting French President Nicolas Sarkozy on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum annual meeting at the Swiss ski resort of Davos.

Merz, who also met French Economy Minister Christine Lagarde and Budget Minister Eric Woerth, said the issue had been resolved as France had taken a first step to send copies of the stolen data to Switzerland.

"Secondly, they promised us that Paris will not seek administrative assistance based on these documents," he said.

In addition, France assured Switzerland that the data would not be transmitted to other countries.

"These three measures are useful to our countries and resolve the problem of stolen data," said Merz.

HSBC Private Bank had said that information on some of its clients was stolen by a former employee who later gave it to French authorities probing suspected tax evasion by several thousand French taxpayers.

The Swiss authorities had called on France to hand the information back after it was seized by police in southern France under a Swiss warrant for the former employee, a French citizen identified as Herve Falciani.

The spat over the data led the Swiss government to suspend in December ratification of a new dual taxation agreement with France.

Following Wednesday's talks, a source close to Woerth said that Paris and Bern have now "progressed" on the ratification of the accord.

"We have progressed well in a constructive spirit," said the source, adding that it was hoped to "get something in the coming days."

Confirming that Woerth had promised Merz not to pass on the HSBC data to other countries, the source said French tax authorities would "use it in the (context) of tax control."

AFP / Expatica

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