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Bilateral tax talks made priority for cabinet

The government says it plans to continue its policy of cooperation with other countries to combat tax dodgers.

Finance Minister Hans-Rudolf Merz said on Thursday the integrity and stability of the financial centre were key for Switzerland.

His ministry has been mandated to continue to consistently implement the standards of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, approved by the government in March 2009, lifting the distinction between tax fraud and tax evasion for foreign bank customers.

Merz said the government wanted to push ahead with the regularisation of undeclared assets but ensure that banking secrecy is upheld.

He added that the government was not interested in attracting undeclared funds to Switzerland, but refused to elaborate on its preferred solution.

“It does not make sense to put forward one specific system - be it a flat rate withholding tax, self-declarations or other measures” he told a news conference.

He said in most cases Switzerland would have to continue negotiations on a bilateral basis, because the European Union had not yet adopted a position on Switzerland’s financial policy.

Merz reiterated that Switzerland ruled out adopting the EU’s automatic exchange of information between governments. He also dismissed the possibility of seeking a comprehensive service agreement with Brussels on improved market access.

Urs Geiser,

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