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Swiss banks eye tax pledge for foreigners

Swiss banks are considering asking some foreign clients to sign a pledge declaring they aren't breaking tax laws at home, according to a Swiss newspaper.

The chairman of the Swiss Bankers Association (SBA), Patrick Odier, told Sunday newspaper NZZ am Sonntag that the industry group is examining various ways of forestalling demands for an automatic exchange of client information with other countries.

Odier said one option would be to make customers from nations that have a tax agreement with Switzerland sign a written declaration that they are conforming to their country's tax laws.

The SBA also favours an anonymised tax on interest earned that would be handed over to the foreign client's government.

Odier told NZZ am Sonntag that the proposals had yet to be finalised.

Over the past year, Switzerland has come under sustained pressure from the United States and other countries to stamp out tax evasion by foreigners hiding funds in Swiss vaults.

Earlier this year, the government agreed to relax its strict banking secrecy laws to allow legal help for foreign governments in cases of suspected large-scale tax evasion by their citizens.

Odier said existing fortunes that have been stashed in Switzerland but not declared at home could be legalised with tax amnesties, a process he said could take several years.

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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