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Swiss Bankers Discuss Tax And Banking Secrecy In Brussels

Ulrika Lomas, Tax-News.com, Brussels

18 December 2000


A delegation from the Swiss Bankers Association (SBA) convened in Brussels at the end of last week for a two-day exchange of views with EU officials on subjects including European tax harmonisation, the taxation of cross-border savings and banking secrecy. Among the officials the SBA was scheduled to meet was Mr Michel Vanden Abeele, head of the EU's Directorate General "Taxation and Customs Union".

The 12-member delegation included members of the SBA's Executive Committee "International Financial Centre Switzerland" and was headed by Dr Urs Roth, the SBA's chief executive officer designate. The SBA's Executive Committee "International Financial Centre Switzerland" was only founded in August 2000. According to the SBA its functions is to 'provide and secure the best possible conditions for Swiss banks so they can work as effectively as possible for their clients in Switzerland and abroad'.

The visit comes as Switzerland and the EU are due to begin negotiations on the taxation of cross-border savings. Dominating the news last week was the fact that the EU now hopes to tax interest earned on foreign savings accounts, much to the consternation of the SBA. Dr Roth has always stood firmly behind the idea that banking secrecy is non-negotiable. In addition, the SBA has stressed that Switzerland should not be singled out, and that the same rules should be applied to all countries including the US, Liechtenstein, Monaco and others.

At a press briefing to underline the aims of the SBA in going to Brussels, Dr Roth stated: 'Our visit has two main aims. Firstly, we want to inform everyone we meet about the Swiss banking sector's position with regard to all the issues currently being discussed by the EU that have a bearing on the Swiss financial centre. Secondly, we ourselves want to gather information about recent developments within the EU.'

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