News / Economy

EU Tax Chief Urges Swiss to End Bank Secrecy

Swiss Finance Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf (R) speaks to media next to European Commissioner for Taxation and Customs Union, Audit and Anti-Fraud Algirdas Semeta during a news conference in Bern, June 17, 2013.
Swiss Finance Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf (R) speaks to media next to European Commissioner for Taxation and Customs Union, Audit and Anti-Fraud Algirdas Semeta during a news conference in Bern, June 17, 2013.
Reuters
— The European Union official in charge of tax policy tried to persuade Switzerland on Monday to agree to surrender more information about clients of its big banking industry as part of a drive to combat tax evasion.
 
Commissioner Algirdas Semeta's meeting with Swiss Finance Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf in Bern came as British Prime Minister David Cameron was due to put his aim of fighting tax evasion on the agenda of a G8 summit he is hosting on Monday and Tuesday.
 
“It is widely accepted worldwide today that the era of bank secrecy is over,” Semeta told a news conference after the talks.
 
“Switzerland can gain from a stronger tax agreement with the EU with automatic exchange of information at its core. It would be a clear signal from Switzerland that it supports fair play.”
 
Switzerland, the world's biggest offshore financial center, with $2 trillion in assets under management, is under pressure  from both the EU and the United States to end bank secrecy as cash-strapped states seek to stop tax evasion.
 
The issue has become even more heated in recent months as U.S. authorities threaten to indict Swiss banks, a French minister quit over his Swiss account and Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness admitted evading taxes through a Swiss bank.
 
EU finance ministers last month gave the European Commission the go-ahead to negotiate with Switzerland, Liechtenstein, San Marino, Andorra and Monaco to expand the kind of client information banks must surrender to tax authorities.
 
Widmer-Schlumpf said the Swiss government would probably only be able to start formal talks with the EU in the autumn and would push for global standards on data exchange at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
 
“For Switzerland it is important that we continue to engage ourselves for a level playing field, not just within the EU but beyond the EU,” she said.
 
A Swiss government commission recommended last week that the country should be ready to share data on foreign depositors with the EU even before a global standard is established for exchanging information on bank clients.
 
The report said Switzerland should seek in return better access for its financial industry to the EU market, a position Widmer-Schlumpf echoed on Monday, although it was swiftly rebuffed by Semeta.
 
“The mandate is very clear. Progress on these negotiations is not linked to any specific issue,” he said.
 
Switzerland has accused the EU of being protectionist and fragmenting global markets with new rules it says are unfair to countries outside the bloc, including the draft EU law MiFID, which imposes stringent obligations on companies from non-EU countries wanting to do business in the bloc.

You May Like

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7305
JPY
USD
101.53
GBP
USD
0.5830
CAD
USD
1.0656
INR
USD
60.075

Rates may not be current.