French request for UBS banking data stopped by Swiss court: report
GENEVA, Aug. 2 (Xinhua) — Switzerland’s Federal Administrative Court has ordered the country’s tax administration not to provide France with details about 40,000 UBS bank clients with French addresses, Swiss media reported Thursday.
In May 2016, the French tax authorities requested administrative assistance from the Federal Tax Administration (FTA), Swiss public radio SRF reported.
The French wanted details about UBS clients who lived or had lived in France.
The FTA agreed to help in February 2018, but Swiss bank UBS, along with account holders, filed a complaint.
The Federal Administrative Court in St Gallen published its ruling this week saying that UBS was correct in its complaint because the French tax authorities had failed to explain why the taxpayers had not fulfilled their fiscal obligations.
The German-language daily newspaper Neue Zuercher Zeitung (NZZ) said that in its judgment, “the Federal Administrative Court has narrowly defined” the conditions for mutual cooperation in a specific case.
Charlotte Jacquemar an economic editor at SRF in an interview with the national broadcaster Wednesday commented, “For the court the case is clear. The French request was a ‘fishing expedition’ — fishing in murky waters. It’s not concrete enough to suspect all French with a UBS account.”
“The judgment is a big success for UBS, and it took a lot of effort. In a first hearing, UBS struggled to be named a party in the case and to access the French files,” Jacquemart said.
However, the case can still go to the Swiss Federal Court if it decides to allow it to do so.
Switzerland has been exchanging tax data with many countries automatically, said SRF.
This automatic exchange of information makes it easier to point out tax evaders, but it concerns current and future banking data, whereas the French UBS case was related to older information.