ZURICH, April 5 (Reuters) - Switzerland's highest court has
rejected a French request for help in investigating a married
couple for tax offences, ruling that data stolen from HSBC's
Geneva private bank was inadmissible.
The ruling comes amid the latest scandal to hit Credit
Suisse after an anonymous tipster alerted Dutch authorities to
thousands of suspect accounts that triggered police raids last
The French couple were discovered via information leaked by
Herve Falciani, a former IT employee who fled HSBC in 2008 with
files that he alleged showed evidence of tax evasion by clients.
The French newspaper Le Monde has said it identified more
than 106,000 clients.
French officials asked Swiss tax authorities in 2014 for
assistance in investigating the French couple suspected of
having an undeclared bank account in Switzerland.
The Swiss authorities agreed, but their decision was
overturned after an appeal by the unnamed couple.
In a March ruling announced on Wednesday, the Swiss Federal
Supreme Court confirmed the lower court's decision. It said
requests for administrative assistance would not be approved
when based on information obtained illegally.
"The criminal origin of the Falciani data is undisputed,"
the court said in a statement. "Especially because Herve
Falciani was convicted in 2015."
A Swiss court sentenced Falciani to five years in prison for
aggravated industrial sabotage, but he has avoided serving time
by remaining in France.
Falciani, a French citizen, has said he is a whistleblower
trying to help governments track down citizens who used Swiss
accounts to evade tax. Spain, Austria, Belgium and Argentina
have also launched their own investigations.
Switzerland last year received an overall rating of "largely
compliant" in an international review of how well it shares
information with other countries on tax matters, but how it
handles stolen data remained an issue.
(Reporting by John Revill; editing by Mark Heinrich)