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Taxation deal with France suspended over whistleblower spat

Switzerland has suspended the ratification of a new dual taxation deal with France intended to prevent tax fraud following moves by French authorities to exploit stolen secret client data handed over by an HSBC Private Bank employee.

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AFP - The Swiss government on Wednesday suspended ratification of a new dual taxation agreement with France in a spat between the two countries over a tax whistleblower from HSBC Private Bank in Geneva.

Swiss Finance Minister Hans Rudolf Merz said that the decision followed moves by French authorities to exploit stolen secret client data handed over by a former computer expert at the bank in the western Swiss city.

"Switzerland will suspend the process aimed at obtaining ratification of the new dual taxation treaty with France by the two chambers of the Federal Assembly," Merz told journalists after a cabinet meeting.

The HSBC employee is wanted by Swiss authorities after the bank filed a complaint over stolen data.

It emerged in recent weeks that he had later given French authorities probing tax evasion data on several thousand French taxpayers.

France and Switzerland signed the new dual taxation treaty in August in a bid to boost exchange of information in cases of tax fraud, marking a softening of Switzerland's closely-guarded banking secrecy.

It is one of a string of deals being struck by the Swiss to fall in line with international standards against tax evasion, following months of pressure and a clampdown by the United States and leading European economies.

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