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Luxembourg tax-data exchange still under ‘reflection’: minister

Luxembourg Finance Minister Luc Frieden said Monday that his government’s apparent willingness to ease banking secrecy under pressure from international rivals was still under “reflection.”

He was responding to reaction to an interview he gave to Sunday’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung newspaper in Germany, which was interpreted as a radical change of position that appeared to isolate another holdout on automatic exchange of tax data across the EU, Austria.

“These reflections are not new,” Frieden told journalists, stressing the context of a new law in the United States covering international tax data.

Frieden said this “evolution” abroad was something Luxembourg had to “take account of in its negotiations,” but that it had yet to reach a settled view.

The issue is the object of “an ongoing reflection,” he said, adding that the finance industry in Luxembourg was “prepared” for an eventual adjustment.

Frieden told the German newspaper: “The international trend is going toward an automatic exchange of bank deposit information. We no longer strictly oppose that.”

A Luxembourg banking source said Frieden had warned the industry there for the past year that resistance was “no longer tenable.”