Private bankers urge EU limit for tax deals

Swiss bankers have called for tax deals on offshore accounts to be restricted to European Union countries.

This content was published on October 19, 2011 - 17:20 and agencies

“Only the EU meets all the conditions of very close economic relations, as well as guarantees of legal security and good functioning states,” Nicolas Pictet, president of the Swiss Private Bankers Association, told a press conference in Geneva on Wednesday.

The costs for banks become disproportionate with accords outside the EU, he noted.

Switzerland signed new deals with Germany and Britain in August permitting the taxation of Swiss accounts held by German and British citizens.

Under the accords, Swiss banks have committed to provide German authorities with SFr2 billion ($2.2 billion) and SFr500,000 million to Britain – money that will be recouped through taxing account holders.

Switzerland is not a member of the EU but has close economic links with the 27-nation bloc.

Pictet also said difficulties remained over an agreement with the United States to ease banking secrecy to crack down on American tax dodgers. He said a deal with Washington had to be in line with Swiss law and should not constitute an unacceptable precedent.

Also on Wednesday, the Geneva Financial Centre Foundation said 2011 had been a difficult year for many banks and the outlook for 2012 was the same. Around 45 per cent of banks said they would be cutting staff.

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