Chief Correspondent, Vienna, Vienna
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Apr 16, 2013

Raiffeisen plays down Austrian bank secrecy row

VIENNA, April 16 (Reuters) – Austria’s biggest bank played
down a dispute over client secrecy, saying there was no sign of
customers pulling out their money as EU partners pile pressure
on Vienna to share information with them on accounts held by

Austria has insisted it will protect confidentiality for
law-abiding savers but may exchange some details on foreigners’
accounts with fellow European Union members keen to crack down
on any tax cheats who stash wealth in the Alpine republic.

Apr 16, 2013

Austria backs German call for EU treaty change over banks

VIENNA, April 16 (Reuters) – Austrian Finance Minister Maria
Fekter backed Germany’s call for changing European Union
treaties to allow banking union, saying new institutions being
set up needed proper legal underpinning.

Berlin said on Saturday the EU’s Lisbon treaty had to be
changed to allow common rules on shutting troubled banks – a
central element of the union that aims to stabilise the euro
zone and prevent taxpayers from footing bills for bank rescues.

Apr 14, 2013

Austria’s Fekter claims victory in EU bank secrecy fight

VIENNA, April 14 (Reuters) – Austrian Foreign Minister Maria
Fekter has declared a victory in her lonely battle with the
other 26 European Union countries to maintain her country’s
banking secrecy and avoid reporting foreigners’ accounts to
their tax authorities.

Dismissing suggestions that her position had left Austria
under pressure and isolated, the woman who has vowed to “fight
like a lion” to defend the country’s banking rules insisted she
had emerged on top in weekend talks with EU partners.

Apr 12, 2013

Austrians’ love of bank secrecy has deep roots

VIENNA, April 12 (Reuters) – Call it the battle for
grandma’s passbook.

That is how politicians here are framing a debate over
whether Austria should roll back banking secrecy and share
information on depositors with European partners and the United
States. Luxembourg’s decision this week to open its books has
fixed attention on Austria, the last EU holdout.

Apr 10, 2013

Raiffeisen bets on recovery in emerging Europe

VIENNA, April 10 (Reuters) – Raiffeisen Bank International
(RBI) plans to expand further in central and eastern
Europe and is optimistic the region’s fragile economic situation
will improve in the second half of this year.

Raiffeisen and rivals Bank Austria and Erste Group
are already the biggest banks in so-called emerging
Europe and want to invest more in the region because of more
dynamic growth prospects than the mature markets of western

Apr 9, 2013

Austria joins Luxembourg for EU bank secrecy talks

VIENNA/LONDON, April 9 (Reuters) – Austria will join
Luxembourg for talks with the European Union on how to crack
down on cross-border tax cheats, Chancellor Werner Faymann said
on Tuesday, signalling an easing of Vienna’s hardline stance on
coveted bank secrecy.

Faymann, a Social Democrat, stressed that Austrians’
domestic bank accounts would remain shielded from the taxman’s
prying eye, but foreigners’ wealth in local banks could face
unprecedented scrutiny if the talks with Brussels go well.

Mar 27, 2013

Salzburg may seek to annul bank trades in investment scandal

VIENNA, March 27 (Reuters) – Austria’s Salzburg province
will try to claw back money from banks by questioning if they
improperly sold a large number of complex financial products to
a bureaucrat unauthorised to do such deals.

Salzburg sacked budget chief Monika Rathgeber last year and
accused her of covertly borrowing 1.8 billion euros ($2.3
billion) over a decade to run a shadow financial portfolio of
highly speculative investments and exotic currency trades.

Mar 25, 2013

Cyprus crisis puts Austrian bank secrecy on agenda

VIENNA (Reuters) – Cyprus’s financial crisis has put Austria’s centuries-old tradition of banking secrecy under fresh scrutiny, posing a potential political problem for Vienna as it faces European Union and U.S. pressure to crack down on tax cheats.

Austria and Luxembourg are the only countries that do not share with other EU members the identities of EU residents with cross-border bank accounts. Instead Austria taxes interest income at source and returns the money to other EU states.

Mar 12, 2013

Hypo Alpe Adria pleads for time to revamp

VIENNA, March 12 (Reuters) – Nationalised Austrian lender
Hypo Alpe Adria pleaded on Tuesday for enough time to
divest assets at fair prices in a revamp that the European
Union’s competition chief has criticised for dragging on.

At stake are billions of euros in aid for the country’s
seventh-biggest bank, which is trying to shrink back to health
after a disastrous decade of unbridled growth and expansion into
the Balkans that pushed it to the brink of insolvency.

Mar 3, 2013

Asylum activists end protest in Vienna church

VIENNA (Reuters) – Dozens of refugees demanding changes to Austria’s asylum system ended a weeks-long occupation of a Vienna church on Sunday, defusing a standoff with authorities.

The activists took up an offer from Roman Catholic Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn – now in Rome for a conclave to elect a new Pope – and moved to a nearby abbey, the Catholic social charity Caritas said.

    • About Michael

      "Mike has worked for Reuters for two decades and reported from more than a dozen countries on business and general news. His beats have included covering the European automotive industry, business news from Switzerland, German defense and security policy, and Hungary's transition to a market democracy after the collapse of communism in eastern Europe"
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