Switzerland, a perennial target for governments pursuing tax evaders, is finding out what it is like to chase down hidden cash.
The Swiss finance ministry said on Thursday it had reached a deal with Liechtenstein to exchange tax information, potentially helping to uncover billions of dollars in undeclared assets kept by Swiss citizens in neighboring Liechtenstein.
"These assets will be declared and the person has the chance either to repatriate the assets to Switzerland, or he will be taxed and he keeps his money in Liechtenstein," said Joerg Gasser, head of the State Secretariat for International Financial Matters, a branch of the finance ministry.
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The situation is a role reversal for Switzerland, whose strict bank secrecy laws for years had made the wealthy Alpine country a haven for hidden money.
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The Swiss-Liechtenstein agreement is under a global tax sharing initiative spearheaded by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Under the OECD's Automatic Exchange of Information (AEI), banks pass on information to local tax agencies, which in turn share it with foreign counterparts.Cabinet adds countries to tax data exchange (Swissinfo 2/2/17), here.
Excerpts (bold-face supplied by JAT):
The Swiss government says it intends to begin automatic exchanges of tax data with 20 additional countries in 2019.
Switzerland already has agreed to such exchanges – based on international standards aimed at ensuring that taxpayers pay the right amount of tax to the right jurisdiction – with 38 nations and territories starting in 2018.
Now, the Swiss finance department will begin consulting with 20 more countries to set up the exchanges starting in 2019, the cabinet said in a statement on Thursday.
The new countries to be added are China, Indonesia, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Liechtenstein, Colombia, Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates, Montserrat, Aruba, Curacao, Belize, Costa Rica, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the Cook Islands and the Marshall Islands.
“These additional countries will have to respect the principle of speciality and safeguard the confidentiality of the data delivered,” said the cabinet, which added that the exchanges will have “a positive impact on the integrity and competitiveness of Switzerland's financial centre”.
The agreements are based on the international standard for the exchange of information developed by the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a club of 35 mostly wealthy nations.