German banks accused of hiding Swiss assets

18th March 2009, Comments 0 comments

The report came as Germany continued to put pressure on Switzerland over its banking secrecy law, as well as its failure to treat tax evasion as a crime.

Geneva -- Some banks in Germany are helping clients hide assets from Swiss authorities, a Zurich newspaper alleged Tuesday, amid a row between the two countries over tax evasion.

The newspaper, Tages Anzeiger, sent an undercover journalist to ask various banks about depositing a million francs (845 thousand dollars, 650 thousand euros), including 300,000 francs of untaxed inheritance.

The daily said a branch of Deutsche Bank in Loerrach, a German border town near the Swiss city of Basel, offered to open an official account with statements sent to Switzerland, as well as an unofficial account for which statements would be stored in the bank.

A Dresdner Bank branch in Loerrach offered a similar service, the daily alleged.

"Both banks offered to hold correspondences on the (undeclared) assets, so that they would not fall into the hands of Swiss tax authorities," the newspaper alleged.

The allegation was rejected by Deutsche Bank.

"Deutsche Bank distances itself clearly from deposits ... that are hidden from tax authorities," the group said in a statement released in Zurich.

Dresdner Bank's spokesman Martin Halusa told AFP: "We are looking into the case."

But he added: "We do not help our clients to avoid taxes."

The Swiss newspaper estimated that as many as two in three clients at banks in the southern German border regions were Swiss.

Smaller German banks along the border were more cautious about accepting such money however, it added.

The report came as Germany continued to put pressure on Switzerland over its banking secrecy law, as well as its failure to treat tax evasion as a crime.

Critics say the Swiss laws encourage tax evaders to hide assets in Swiss banks. Banking secrecy also restricts what action Swiss tax authorities can take against domestic evasion.

Switzerland late last week caved in to international pressure and said it would swap information with foreign authorities to stamp out tax cheats.

But Germany on Monday expressed doubt that this showed a real willingness to move towards unrestricted cooperation on tax matters -- a claim that provoked anger in Switzerland.

The Swiss foreign ministry described the German statement as "unacceptable" and said it would summon the German ambassador to complain.

AFP/Expatica

0 Comments To This Article