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Top banker asks Germans to "bury hatchet"

The chairman of the Swiss Bankers Association says the softening of Swiss banking secrecy laws has not led to any noticeable flow of assets out of the country.

This content was published on June 11, 2009 - 15:26

Pierre Mirabaud said investors had nowhere else to place their money since all countries were expected to comply with new banking standards set out by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Speaking before journalists in the German financial capital, Frankfurt, on Thursday, Mirabaud also called for more objectivity in the debate over tax havens.

Mirabaud's comments were directed at Germany's finance minister, Peer Steinbrück. Earlier this year, Steinbrück compared the Swiss – under pressure from the OECD to meet international standards - to Native Americans living in fear of the United States cavalry.

Steinbrück told Swiss parliamentarians at a meeting last month that he would tone down his language.

The German finance minister has claimed that Germany loses more than €1 billion (SFr1.5 billion) annually through tax evasion, and therefore wants Switzerland to comply with the OECD standards.

"I'm here on a peace mission," Mirabaud said. "The Indians now expect the colonel of the cavalry to bury the hatchet and take a place at the negotiating table."

The chairman of the association, which represents more than 350 institutions, said Switzerland was ready to implement the OECD standards. However, he added that it was important that information on foreign-held accounts was only exchanged on a case-by-case basis.

swissinfo.ch with agencies

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