Global Investing

Give and take in Switzerland

By Reuters Staff
December 11, 2008

Switzerland prides itself for being a reasonably generous country. Each year it gives 1.2 billion Swiss francs, or about 0.4 percent of its gross domestic product, in aid to poorer countries, a higher portion of aid than larger states such as Britain.

But what you get with one hand ….
 
According to estimates by the Berne Declaration, a Swiss non-profit organisation, the poorest nations’ wealthiest have hidden between about 360 billion and 1.5 trillion Swiss francs in Switzerland, away from the taxman. This means that each year, between 5.4 billion and 22 billion Swiss francs are lost to tax authorities in developing countries, equivalent to at least five times what Switzerland gives to those countries in aid.

“Tax dodgers in developed and developing countries deprive governments of revenues,” OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria said last month, adding that if this tax money was collected billions of dollars would available for financing development. (Lisa Jucca)

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