Swiss freeze funds to OECD in tax haven spat

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In a protest against being classified on OECD’s tax haven list, Switzerland is freezing a financial contribution to the organisation.

ZURICH – Switzerland has frozen a financial contribution to the OECD in protest at being included on the organisation's tax havens list without being consulted, the economy ministry said on Wednesday.

"Switzerland used its veto rights" to withhold EUR 136,000 earmarked for cooperation between the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and the Group of 20 countries, ministry spokeswoman Rita Baldegger said.

"The amount is relatively modest but it’s a symbolic and strong gesture, a protest," she told AFP.

G20 leaders are using the OECD's listing of compliance with its international tax exchange standard as a basis for a crackdown on secretive offshore havens.

Switzerland was classified on a 'grey' list of about 40 countries which have pledged to comply but have not yet substantially implemented the standard.

The Swiss government eased banking secrecy on 14 March under international pressure.

The Swiss were ready to unfreeze the contribution "if the OECD pledges to inform Switzerland beforehand when it gives documents to the G20," the spokeswoman added.

Switzerland is one of 30 member states in the OECD, a club of industrialised economies that includes the wealthy G20 members. The agency's budget for 2009 is EUR 303 million.

A Swiss parliamentary committee has also summoned the OECD's secretary general, Angel Gurria, to give an explanation for the list drawn up in recent months.

AFP / Expatica

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