Athens eyeing deal to tax assets hidden in Swiss banks: report

AFP , Sunday 5 Jul 2015

Athens wants a tax amnesty deal for Greeks who have stashed cash in Swiss banks, in a bid to bring much-needed revenue to the debt-laden country, a Swiss newspaper reported Sunday.

The government in crisis-hit Greece, where citizens were voting Sunday in a vital referendum on EU-imposed austerity measures, has proposed offering the country's tax cheats an amnesty as long as they pay a flat 21-percent levy on all undeclared assets, the NZZ am Sonntag weekly reported, citing "well-informed sources".

The government made up of the left-wing Syriza party, whose survival likely depends on the referendum outcome, has promised to tackle tax evasion which hurts Greece's already devastated economy.

Estimates of how much untaxed Greek cash is stashed in Swiss banks varies widely, from between 2.0 billion to $200 billion euros, so the government's proposed deal could mean a flood of desperately needed income, NZZ am Sonntag said.

Greece and Switzerland have gone through several rounds of discussions on how to address the illegal deposits.

A Swiss finance ministry spokesman confirmed to the paper that Athens had put forward a new proposal, but would not comment on its content.

Switzerland's long-cherished banking secrecy laws in the past made the country's banks a haven for wealthy foreigners wishing to hide their assets from the taxman back home.

Under international pressure, those laws are being phased out, and Swiss authorities and banks are working to clean up their systems and make it easier for countries to crack down on tax cheats.

All EU citizens with hidden assets in the Alpine nation will need to come clean by 2018, when a system of automatic banking information exchange will be introduced.

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