Switzerland nears removal from tax haven “gray list”

July 15, 2009

ZURICH, July 15 (Reuters) – Switzerland said on Wednesday it had agreed a new tax treaty with Austria, bringing the total of tax deals to 11 and leaving it only one step away from being removed from an OECD list of tax havens.
The list, part of a naming and shaming of tax havens by the G20 nations, was drafted by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development in April and has caused much embarrassment to Switzerland and other countries involved.
In order to be promoted to a “white list” of financial centres, countries must sign at least 12 new bilateral fiscal treaties in which they agree to cooperate on tax evasion issue.
Failure to quickly sign new tax deals may results in sanctions, the G20 nations warned in April.
Switzerland has so far initialled double-taxation treaties with Denmark, Luxembourg, Norway, France, Mexico, the United States, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland and Great Britain, according to a statement by the Swiss Finance Ministry.
Luxembourg said earlier this week it had been removed from the OECD list.
Switzerland is the world’s biggest offshore banking centre and the signing of the treaties is weakening its treasured bank secrecy. Austria and Luxembourg are both bank secrecy strongholds.
(Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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