Financial Regulatory Forum

Merkel tries to calm tempers in Swiss tax dispute

Wanted in Switzerland

Wanted in Switzerland

By Madeline Chambers

BERLIN, Feb 8 (Reuters) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Switzerland’s president have agreed that a dispute over stolen Swiss bank account data which Germany wants to buy should not harm ties between the neighbours, her spokesman said on Monday.

Merkel, who spoke to President Doris Leuthard on Saturday in an effort to calm tempers, also recieved assurances Switzerland would continue talks on a double taxation deal that would bring Switzerland into line with OECD standards.

Switzerland’s large private banking industry has been shaken in the last week by German politicians saying they would pay for data on clients of Swiss banks who may have been evading German taxes even if the information was obtained illegally.

“(Merkel and Leuthard) agreed that good neighbourly relations should not be damaged by this ongoing issue,” Merkel’s spokesman Ulrich Wilhelm told a news conference.

German media have reported the data could lead authorities to a 400 million euro tax windfall but the row has also raised the possibility of a diplomatic spat. Swiss politicians have attacked Germany’s plans, one even likening it to bank robbery.

European states keep Swiss bank secrecy under siege

By Jason Rhodes and Ben Berkowitz

BERNE/AMSTERDAM, Feb 3 (Reuters) – European states lined up behind German Chancellor Angela Merkel to expose tax cheats in a combined assault on the Swiss banking secrecy laws that help protect them.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble sent shivers through the large Swiss private banking industry this week when he said Berlin was prepared to pay for stolen data belonging to potential tax cheats at a Swiss bank, raising the bar in the fight against tax evasion.

Now, the Dutch, Belgian and Austrian governments have also flagged interest in obtaining a copy of a compact disc with tax-sensitive data that Berlin may soon buy from an informant.