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Call for action after Italian bank raids

A Ticino senator has called on the government to suspend double taxation negotiations with Italy following raids on branches of Swiss banks as part of a tax amnesty.

Filippo Lombardi of the Christian Democrats said the talks should be halted until the situation was clarified. However a spokesman for the Swiss Federal Tax Administration noted that the agreements were a necessary part of Switzerland's commitments to conform to international tax cooperation standards.

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini also waded into the issue on Thursday telling journalists in Brussels: "I don't think the path of measure and counter-measure is the correct one." Italy had "absolutely nothing" against Switzerland, he added.

Earlier on Wednesday President Hans-Rudolf Merz had referred to "focussed measures" being taken against Italy.

Around 100 financial police agents on Tuesday targeted 76 offices including Italian branches of Swiss banks, Italian banks with Swiss ties and San Marino-linked banks.

The finance ministry has declined to comment on the raids but the government did summon the Italian ambassador to Bern to express its "surprise" at the move by the Italian authorities. Ambassador Giuseppe Deodato told Swiss radio that it was an internal affair and not meant to be an unfriendly move towards Switzerland.

Italy's parliament voted for a third tax amnesty in nine years on October 2 in an attempt to repatriate funds it believes Italian tax dodgers have stashed in foreign banks. and agencies


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