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Automatic exchange of information "inevitable"

Switzerland will not be able to resist the automatic exchange of tax information indefinitely, the European Union ambassador to Bern has claimed.

In an interview published in the Basler Zeitung newspaper, Michael Reiterer rejected outright the withholding tax option put forward by the banks and pro-business parties.

“In the long term Switzerland will not be able to resist the European trend towards automatic information exchange,” Reiterer said.

The ambassador dismissed withholding tax as an outdated concept. “Its goal is to preserve anonymity instead of transparency,” he said.

Swiss Finance Minister Hans-Rudolf Merz, who was in Luxembourg for an informal meeting of German-speaking finance ministers on Sunday, has however dismissed an automatic exchange of information with tax authorities abroad.

A Swiss finance ministry spokeswoman said the atmosphere had been friendly despite recent tensions between Switzerland and Germany over Berlin's decision to pursue a stolen CD-rom containing data of Swiss bank clients.

Switzerland has in recent months come under pressure from its neighbours, including France and Italy, as well as the United States to crack down on tax dodgers and abolish its traditional banking secrecy. and agencies

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