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Germany wants tax evasion battle on Ecofin agenda

Published on 11/04/2013

Germany said on Monday that informal talks by EU finance ministers later this week would be "a good opportunity" to discuss steps to curb tax evasion.

“I assume that the signals now coming out of Luxembourg will also be used by the (European) Commission… to approach the topic again aggressively,” a finance ministry spokesman told a government news conference.

Spokesman Martin Kotthaus said that an informal Ecofin meeting in Dublin from Thursday to Saturday would provide a “good opportunity” to talk about the issue.

Luxembourg Finance Minister Luc Frieden told a German Sunday newspaper that his country was prepared to lift the lid slightly on its controversial bank secrecy policy to help curb tax evasion by foreign depositors.

“The international trend is going toward an automatic exchange of bank deposit information. We no longer strictly oppose that,” he told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.

Tax evasion has gained fresh prominence this month after a vast trove of emails and leaked records from offshore tax havens exposed the identities of thousands of account holders.

Kotthaus said the fight against tax evasion had to entail better cooperation between states and an “automated information exchange” but said the process was “arduous,” with many different interests at play.