Liechtenstein tax dispute will hit Swiss banking secrecy, says anti-corruption campaigner

23rd February 2008, Comments 0 comments

Switzerland's famously discreet banks may be forced to give foreign tax inspectors greater access to their files in the future, a leading Swiss anti-corruption campaigner was quoted as saying Saturday.

23 February 2008

ZURICH - Switzerland's famously discreet banks may be forced to give foreign tax inspectors greater access to their files in the future, a leading Swiss anti-corruption campaigner was quoted as saying Saturday.

Philippe Levy, a retired ambassador and former president of the anti-graft group Transparency Switzerland, said Germany's stated resolve to pursue citizens who stash money away in tax havens would inevitably lead to a change in Swiss banking rules.

"Unless other countries accept it, Switzerland's banking secrecy can't be maintained in its current form," he told Zurich-based daily Tages-Anzeiger in an interview published Saturday.

German politicians of all parties have seized on recent allegations that rich Germans are hiding millions of euros in the tiny Alpine principality of Liechtenstein to demand concerted action against all offshore tax havens.

Levy said that resisting the call for greater transparency would give further credence to the idea that Swiss banks are happy to profit from tax evasion.

"Nothing less than the reputation of the (Swiss) financial community is at stake," he said.

According to Levy, Switzerland already grants US investigators greater access to banking information than it does to other countries.

[Copyright ap 2008]

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