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Swiss banks accept secrecy reforms

Published on 16/03/2009

GENEVA - Bankers in Switzerland are confident the government's pledge to ease banking secrecy will not drive clients to withdraw their capital out of the country, reports said on Sunday.

The weekly newspaper NZZ am Sonntag and the ATS news agency cited Thomas Sutter, a spokesman for the Association of Swiss Banks (ASB), as saying that the Swiss financial sector did not need to fear the proposals.

Switzerland, along with Luxembourg, Austria and Monaco, said Friday it would relax bank secrecy laws amid growing international pressure to stop tax havens.

The Swiss government said it would accept standards developed by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to allow the exchange of information with other countries.

This, however, would be done "case by case" and on the basis of "concrete and justified" requests, it said in a statement, joining other countries in stating firm limits to the steps it will take.

The ASB said however that in renegotiating taxation agreements with nations such as Britain and the United States, Switzerland should demand action in return on certain territories of these countries which it views as tax havens.

Switzerland’s Finance Minister Hans-Rudolf Merz said on Saturday that the Swiss pledges on banking secrecy would help it avoid being blacklisted as a tax haven by the OECD.

Friday’s announcement came ahead of a Group of 20 (G20) meeting of finance ministers and a full summit on 2 April of G20 leaders, who aim to restrict tax havens to reduce financial trouble.

AFP / Expatica