Switzerland to automatically share bank data with Australia as part of crackdown on tax cheats

Switzerland has signed an accord with Australia aimed at cracking down on tax evaders.

The joint declaration signed Tuesday in Canberra will see the countries automatically share tax information on each other's citizens by 2018.

Swiss Finance Ministry spokesman Mario Tuor said it's the first time Switzerland has pledged such an automatic information exchange, though negotiations are underway with the United States and the European Union over similar accords.

Switzerland has shifted from its long-standing defense of financial secrecy following a series of data leaks and foreign court cases that exposed how Swiss banks helped foreign clients hide vast sums from tax their authorities.

Switzerland says Australia has put in place procedures for taxpayers to declare Swiss accounts, and is willing to discuss better market access for Swiss financial providers.