Three major European countries with banking secrecy laws have warned against any attempt by the G20 group of nations to place them on a tax haven blacklist. A G20 summit is due next month and tackling tax avoidance is on the agenda, but Switzerland, Luxembourg and Austria are not members. They have vowed to protect their practices, and say it is vital they are party to the tax talks, according to Luc Frieden, Luxembourg’s Minister for the Budget and Treasury:
“Banking secrecy itself seems crucial to us as it protects the private affairs of honest citizens. But we are open to the idea of a dialogue on finding ways to improve collaboration on the exchange of information.” The European Commission also plans to look at ways of dealing with “uncooperative” tax jurisdictions. Washington had demanded details of more than 50,000 accounts.After handing over the details of 300 US clients suspected of tax fraud, Swiss bank UBS has reportedly refused further cooperation. Not the situation in Liechtenstein according to its Prime Minister designate Klaus Tschütscher: “We have agreed to cooperate with the legitimate demands of the USA, so the balance of interests is controlled by the terms of the deal we have signed and I think its a good compromise.” The Paris-based OECD already has a blacklist of countries that won’t fully cooperate in tax evasion probes, including Andorra, Monaco and Leichtenstein. Germany and France have pushed for Switzerland to be added to the list.