Expatica news

German minister taunts Switzerland again

BRUSSELS – Germany’s finance minister Peer Steinbrueck taunted Switzerland and other European finance centres again Tuesday, comparing them to the African nation of Burkina Faso, in a tax haven dispute.

Steinbrueck told journalists in Brussels he regretted that Switzerland, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein and Austria failed to attend an international conference on tax havens in Paris in October 2008.

"Of course, I am going to invite them for a follow-up conference in June in Berlin," he said, adding "Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Austria and Ouagadougou," the capital of Burkina Faso.

Steinbrueck repeatedly upset Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Austria as he aimed along with France to take action against countries that fail to cooperate with foreign tax authorities.

His efforts caused a diplomatic conflict with Switzerland earlier in 2009 when he  compared the Swiss to "Indians" in the Wild West.

This led to one Swiss MP to say Steinbrueck "reminds me of the old generation of Germans, who 60 years ago went through the streets with leather coats, boots and armbands," a Nazi analogy that outraged many Germans.

However, international efforts to control tax havens led the four countries to cooperate with foreign tax authorities, limiting their banking secrecy rules.

AFP / Expatica