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Swiss ambassador rejects US tax criticism

24 Aug 2011, 11:29

Published: 24 Aug 2011 12:13 GMT+02:00
Updated: 24 Aug 2011 11:29 GMT+02:00

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Switzerland's ambassador to the United States, Manuel Sager, has penned a letter strongly refuting “claims that Switzerland is fighting against handing over bank information about Americans who have cheated on their taxes.“

Writing in response to an editorial in the New York Times, Sager argued that the Swiss government has worked hard to implement a comprehensive strategy it approved in 2009 to discourage the influx of undeclared money.

“Switzerland is determined to be a leading global financial centre for clean money. Untaxed money has no place in Switzerland“, he said. The New York Times editorial on August 17th, titled “Swiss banks, aiding and abetting“, said:

“Despite IRS efforts, wealthy American tax cheats are still able to hide their money because Swiss banks are eager to help them.“

After accusing Swiss financial advisers of the continued use of “shady tactics“, such as opening fake businesses and foundations, the New York Times also made reference to the US criminal investigation against Credit Suisse following the $780 million fine against UBS for helping customers to evade tax. The editorial concluded:

“Switzerland is again resisting demands for more information about American clients. Washington should not stop pushing until all Swiss banks hand over their files and close those accounts.“

Sager referred in his letter to a new tax treaty with the United States allowing for the exchange of information in cases of tax evasion, which he said was signed almost two years ago.

“The United States has not availed itself of this new instrument up to now, however, as the treaty is still awaiting approval by the United States senate“, he wrote.

“Switzerland has made a constructive offer; it needs only to be used. That includes a tailor-made solution ensuring full compliance by American taxpayers regarding past as well as future obligations.“

Swiss president Micheline Calmy-Rey on Tuesday described as “legally unacceptable” the increasing demands from US tax authorities for data from Switzerland on alleged tax evasion by Americans.

Most recently, Switzerland arrived at a far-reaching understanding with Germany that will lead to a resolution of all previously undeclared assets in Swiss banks. A similar agreement with the United Kingdom is currently being negotiated.

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