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Finance minister to protect banking secrecy

Switzerland has vowed to defend its banking secrecy laws despite a tax probe into one of its banks and opposition from neighbouring countries.

"Swiss banking secrecy is always under pressure but banking secrecy is secured internationally," Finance Minister Hans-Rudolf Merz said on Wednesday, adding that the government was "well prepared" to protect the law.

The principle of banking secrecy has not been undermined by United States justice department investigations into whether Switzerland's largest bank, UBS, helped US citizens to dodge taxes, Merz added.

US authorities have demanded UBS hand over data related to US onshore client accounts.

Switzerland has said it will only exchange details of Swiss bank account in instances of proven tax fraud. No details of key Swiss-based offshore or undeclared accounts of US citizens had yet been handed over, Merz said.

German and French finance minister last month attacked the Swiss banking secrecy system and called for Switzerland to be added to a blacklist of "uncooperative" tax havens.


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