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

US States Where Women Work for Free

Women earn less than men in all 50 states More

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

At a recent even in Seoul, border communities promoted benefits of increased cooperation and North Korean defectors shared stories of life since the war More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows Fight to Death Against IS

In wide-ranging interview, Fuad Masum describes new type of fight that will take time to win More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.9205
JPY
USD
123.69
GBP
USD
0.6508
CAD
USD
1.2456
INR
USD
64.051

Rates may not be current.