Targeting tax evaders the finance ministers of France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Britain, along with tax authority chiefs from around the world, have signed an agreement on the automatic exchange of bank data.
Fifty one countries and territories will swap information, including places like Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.
Germany has been at the forefront of the fight against bank secrecy, and at the signing in Berlin Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said: “This is an important step for a greater cross-border cooperation between tax authorities. The implementation of the new standard and the start of the actual exchange of information in 2017 are a great success in the fight against international tax evasion.”
He said he believes the scheme will expand: “We have seen in the past that if the action proves successful, other states will follow. Therefore the automatic exchange of financial account information remains open for further countries and jurisdictions to join in.”
This is the result of years of effort by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development to promote transparency and establish an international standard for sharing information.
The data exchanges will start in 2017 for most of the countries.
Switzerland – which is the world’s biggest offshore financial centre – will join in 2018 along with Brazil, Canada, China, Hong Kong, Monaco and Russia, as well as Singapore which is fast growing as a tax haven with money flowing there from China, India and Indonesia.