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Swiss anger at Italy bank inspections

Swiss anger at Italy bank inspections

The Swiss government said Wednesday that Italian authorities acted in "discriminatory" fashion when conducting unannounced inspections of Swiss banks and their affiliates in Italy.
Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey summoned Italy's ambassador in Bern to explain why financial police's largely targeted Italian branches of Swiss banks Tuesday as part of their crackdown on cross-border tax evasion.
Interior Minister Pascal Couchepin said Calmy-Rey's summons came after the Swiss cabinet met Wednesday to discuss the issue.
The Italian police and the country's tax authority said the effort was part of their efforts to recover million in taxes from income held illegally abroad.
Italian authorities had acted in a "discriminatory" fashion, Swiss government spokesman Andre Simonazzi said.
Authorities in the Swiss canton (state) of Ticino fear that Rome's efforts to convince Italians to bring back billions of dollars from Swiss banks could devastate Ticino's banking industry.
James Nason, a spokesman for the Swiss Bankers Association, said the high-profile visits by some 100 police were a publicity stunt.
"It strikes me as being rather infantile," Nason told Swiss radio WRS on Tuesday.
"Established procedures exist to exchange information in criminal cases," he said. "There isn't any need for this sort of dramatic action and this sort of Keystone Cops drama."
Switzerland recently emerged from a bruising battle with Washington over revelations that Swiss banking giant UBS AG helped thousands of American clients evade taxes.
The disclosure _ together with heavy pressure by France, Germany and Britain to close down offshore tax havens _ prompted the Swiss government earlier this year to relax its venerated banking secrecy laws in dealings with other governments.


Updated : 2021-07-25 05:14 GMT+08:00