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Top banker rejects German tax claims

One of Switzerland's top bankers has rebuffed demands by the German government for greater cooperation in catching tax evaders.

This content was published on May 5, 2008 - 20:24

Pierre Mirabaud, the president of the Swiss Bankers Association, instead proposed that European Union governments reconsider their own tax policies.

"Countries which worry about tax evasion of their citizens should have a good think about the way they tax their people," the banker told journalists in Geneva on Monday.

Mirabaud also suggested the row might in part be fuelled by European counterparts envious of Switzerland's dominance in the banking sector.

German authorities have pressured Switzerland to crack down on foreign nationals who deposit funds in Swiss banks to avoid paying taxes back home. Mirabaud rejects the claim.

"We are not a tax authority and we are not a police authority," he said, adding that the country has some of the strictest money laundering rules in the world.

A visit last week by German Chancellor Angela Merkel failed to make headway on the matter.

Foreign citizens have deposited more than SFr1 trillion ($950 billion) in the country's banks.

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