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Swiss wait for EU tax evasion initiative

AFP · 14 May 2013, 20:56

Published: 14 May 2013 20:56 GMT+02:00

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Swiss authorities said they had "taken note" of a fresh negotiating mandate adopted by finance ministers from across the 27-nation EU.
"Back in 2009, Switzerland had already declared its willingness in 
principle to discuss extending the EU savings tax agreement so as to close loopholes," the Swiss finance department said in a statement.
"As soon as the request from the EU to conduct negotiations with 
Switzerland on extending the savings tax agreement has been submitted, the Federal Council will examine the request and then respond," it added.
The Federal Council is the seven-member cabinet of Switzerland, which 
remains staunchly outside the EU but is surrounded by the bloc's members and has tight economic ties with them.
Often criticized for allowing EU residents to stash what may be undeclared 
cash in its banks, Switzerland has over recent years made deals with the EU to tax the savings of such depositors and pay the funds anonymously back to member states.
The country's banks are a traditional refuge in tough times, and 
with the crisis afflicting Europe stoking the debate, Brussels has pushed the Swiss to go further by revealing information about clients automatically.
Switzerland, however, has insisted that any efforts in its part must be 
matched by those of other financial centres both within the EU and beyond.
"In its assessment of future frameworks, Switzerland will use developments 
in important international financial centres outside the EU in addition to developments in the EU," the finance department said.
"Switzerland will also collaborate with the OECD bodies which are involved 
in drawing up global standards for the exchange of information," it added, referring to the 34-nation Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.
The tax evasion issue has sparked bitter debate within the EU itself, 
though resistance has been chipped away.
Austria has been seeking guarantees before it drops resistance to the 
automatic sharing of bank records.
Luxembourg was long the other main obstacle to such transparency covering 
savers agreed by the rest of the EU fully five years ago, but it has said it will now ease its banking secrecy restrictions.

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