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Ambassador criticises New York Times editorial

Switzerland’s ambassador to the United States has defended Bern’s tax cooperation efforts following criticism in a New York Times editorial.

In a letter to the editor published in the newspaper on August 23, Manuel Sager wrote that he “strongly disagreed” with a line in the August 17 editorial that “Switzerland is again resisting demands for more information about American clients”.

The editorial “Swiss banks, aiding and abetting” commented on court cases involving Swiss bankers in which tax evasion was allegedly continuing and a US criminal probe into Credit Suisse aiding tax evasion.

“The cases underscore how deeply Swiss banks rely on tax evasion. Despite all of the IRS’s efforts, wealthy American tax cheats are still able to hide their money because Swiss banks are still eager to help them,” said the newspaper’s editorial.

Sager however said the Swiss government had been carrying out a “comprehensive strategy to discourage the influx of undeclared money” since 2009.

“A new tax treaty with the United States setting forth the exchange of information in cases of tax evasion was signed almost two years ago. The United States has not availed itself of this new instrument up to now, however, as the treaty is still awaiting approval by the United States Senate,” he wrote.

“Switzerland has made a constructive offer; it needs only to be used.”

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