Switzerland, Germany close to tax deal: Swiss banker

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Switzerland and Germany are close to a deal aimed at resolving a dispute over German taxpayers alleged to be holding undisclosed assets in Swiss banks, a top Geneva banker said Wednesday.

"It could go very quickly, it's a matter of weeks," said Nicolas Pictet, vice-chairman of Geneva's Financial Centre, which groups 80 banks operating in the western Swiss city.

According to Pictet, Berlin has reversed its stance and is now ready to accept Switzerland's proposal to impose withholding taxes on interests and capital gains generated by assets held by German taxpayers.

These taxes would be transferred to Germany, but the identities of the taxpayers would be withheld.

Pictet said Berlin had come around to the proposal because of "pragmatic considerations."

"The states need money," he said.

Germany's push to recover taxes on undeclared assets has sparked tensions with its neighbour Switzerland, where funds may have been deposited allegedly to evade taxes.

In July, German authorities raided branches of Credit Suisse as part of a tax evasion probe.

© 2010 AFP

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