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Today’s Top Headlines

Switzerland May Implement Sanctions Against OECD

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

16 April 2009

Switzerland may exercise its veto on various key votes within the OECD together with applying other financial sanctions aimed increasingly at Angel Gurria, the OECD Secretary-General in protest at the way he personally is applying pressure to relax bank secrecy laws and share information for tax purposes.

The Swiss have already blocked a budget payment of USD180,000 and are considering delaying their payment of a USD 8.65m membership subscription. The USD180,000 was destined to promote the OECD's widening engagement with emerging economies, including China and India, which is regarded as one of Gurria's most important initiatives.

Further Swiss applications of its veto have been discussed in the Swiss Parliament with the aim of disrupting such prime initiatives, and the Swiss right of veto over Gurria's re-election in 2011 was a focus point in the debate.

Last Saturday in a radio interview, the Swiss president, Han-Rudolf Merz played down suggestions of disrupting OECD work with the Swiss veto, but at the same time he stated his wish to build a coalition of other countries also on the OECD 'grey list' (countries which have not yet implemented their commitment to the OECD tax standards) with the objective of stopping the OECD from acting 'behind their backs'.

This 'coalition' was seen in action when Belgium, Luxembourg and Austria joined Switzerland in the application of the budget payment veto last Monday.

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