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Tue, Mar 03, 2009 - Page 10 News List

Switzerland could be on tax haven blacklist: Sarkozy

AFP , BRUSSELS

Switzerland could figure on a planned G20 blacklist of tax havens, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Sunday.

Asked after an EU summit in Brussels whether the Swiss could find themselves on the blacklist being prepared for a G20 meeting next month, Sarkozy replied “that depends on their response.”

“But as things stand ... the answer is probably, yes,” he said.

Last week Swiss Finance Minister Hans-Rudolf Merz said his country might have to make some concessions on banking secrecy to avoid being placed on the international blacklist when the leaders of the G20 industrialized and emerging economies meet in London on April 2.

In recent months, Switzerland has faced growing international criticism, especially in the US and the EU. British and German ministers have claimed secrecy encourages EU citizens to evade taxes by hiding their money in Swiss banks.

Banking secrecy law bars Swiss banks from revealing information to domestic or foreign authorities or any third parties about their clients, except in cases involving recognized criminal investigations.

In Switzerland, only tax fraud is regarded as a crime, not tax evasion, a distinction that does not exist in most other major economies.

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