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Merz appoints consultant in Italian tax affair

Swiss President Hans-Rudolf Merz has nominated a former parliamentarian Renzo Respini as a political consultant in a row with Italy over tax evasion.

Earlier this week Italy carried out a raid on branches of Swiss banks in the country as part of a tax amnesty, a move which caused an outcry in Switzerland, particularly in Italian-speaking Ticino.

Merz, who also holds the finance portfolio, said that Respini, who hails from Ticino, would be tasked with bringing the political, tax and financial questions together, as well as ensuring coordination between the government, the Ticino authorities and the Ticino business world.

"Italy is putting pressure on Ticino's financial centre due to its latest tax amnesty and with its actions on October 27 is discriminating against Swiss banks in Italy," a Finance Ministry statement said on Friday.

On Wednesday the Swiss government summoned the Italian ambassador to Bern to express its "surprise" at the raid. Italy has said that it was an internal affair and not meant to be an unfriendly move towards Switzerland.

A Ticino senator has, however, called on the government to suspend double taxation negotiations with Italy over the matter. There have also been complaints of Italian police "spying" on the border with surveillance cameras. Around 70,000 Italians live in Ticino.

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.

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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