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German finance minister accused of “dreaming”

Finance Minister Hans-Rudolf Merz says a new international tax accord agreed to by Switzerland will not lead to a massive flow of money back into Germany.

Merz, speaking in an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, said his German colleague, Peer Steinbrück, was “dreaming” if he expected “hundreds of millions of francs” in tax money to come pouring in.

Merz was responding to Steinbrück’s comments earlier this year that German taxpayers have deposited €200-300 billion (SFr130–196 billion) in Swiss bank accounts, and that Berlin loses €1 billion annually through tax evasion.

The Swiss finance minister said last year, for example, SFr137 million in taxes was sent to Germany, a figure Steinbrück called a “joke”.

“According to the latest figures, there is approximately SFr5.4 trillion in total assets invested in Switzerland,” Merz told the German newspaper. “Half of this is from institutional investors who have no grounds to evade taxes or commit fraud.”

On Monday during a meeting in Berlin, Merz and Steinbrück said they had resolved their differences, with Merz committing Switzerland to providing Germany with assistance in tax-evasion cases.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR