Switzerland looks to be one step closer to responding to requests for information based on stolen data once that data is in the public domain. This is because the Swiss Federal Council has adopted a dispatch on certain proposed amendments to its Tax Administrative Assistance programme that will ease the rules on the use of stolen data.
The Council has stated that it believes that the use of stolen data is necessary to safeguard Switzerland’s interests.
While the Swiss authourities will continue to deny requests based on stolen data held by a third state and relied upon by the state requesting the information from Switzerland; it will not do so if the information is from a public source.
In seeking to justify the use of stolen information to give effect to its international law obligations to exchange information, the Council indicated that because of Swiss practices have increasingly been called into question since 2013 ” the reforms it will now implement will clarify the legal situation and take account of both international requirements and the Global Forum on Tax Transparency’s recommendations.”
If the Swiss are correct in thinking that the proper conduct of international tax diplomacy, admits the use of illegally obtained information in order to fulfil global standards in the area of transparency and tax information exchange, once it is from a public source; then you may rightly ask, “What is there to prevent the development of a new industry of tax information theft, given that there may well be a ready market for such ill-gotten ‘gains’?
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