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German minister renews his charge

The German finance minister has again attacked Switzerland over its banking secrecy laws.

Less than a week after Peer Steinbrück provoked a row with Bern by saying Switzerland should be on the blacklist of "uncooperative" tax havens, he told journalists he was "astonished" by the reaction to his words.

"No country should offer conditions which might encourage tax payers from a neighbouring state to indulge in tax evasion or tax fraud," he said.

He said Germany was simply trying to contribute to ensuring a fair system of tax competition in Europe.

"I have every respect for Swiss sovereignty, but Germany's sovereignty in tax matters must also be respected," he said.

After similar criticism levelled at Switzerland last week, the Swiss foreign ministry summoned the German ambassador to express its "surprise and discontent" at the minister's words.