OECD chief to Swiss: accept 'harder' tax climate

21st April 2009, Comments 0 comments

Gurria wants proof of Switzerland’s commitment to end bank secrecy.

GENEVA - OECD chief Angel Gurria told Switzerland to accept a new "harder" international climate surrounding tax secrecy, in an interview published Saturday.

"When Switzerland raised objections, we understood but our reaction was to say: there's a new, much harder, climate. Rather than being offended, try to understand what it means," Gurria told the Swiss newspaper Le Temps.

The Swiss government eased banking secrecy in March by seeking exchange of information with foreign countries, following months of pressure against tax evasion caused by the financial crisis.

But Switzerland protested at being placed on the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development's 'grey' list of about 40 financial centres that "committed to the internationally agreed tax standard, but have not yet substantially implemented" it.

Gurria suggested that the criteria for being removed from that section into the list of compliant states were loose.

"My idea is to have proof that they act very quickly to fulfill their commitments," said the OECD chief.

"Even if a country still has zero treaties in six months, because of its political process, that won't mean nothing has been done."

"But when you have zero treaties, which is the case with Switzerland, it's rather academic to discuss whether the right figure is 10, 11 or 14," Gurria said.

Several territories on the OECD list, including Switzerland, are negotiating dual taxation treaties with other countries. Switzerland’s first agreement is likely to be submitted to a nationwide referendum.

Switzerland is one of the 30 members of the OECD, an organisation of major industrialised countries.

AFP / Expatica

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