Luxembourg says willing to ease banking secrecy: paper

BERLIN Sun Apr 7, 2013 11:35am EDT

Luxembourg Finance Minister Luc Frieden poses for a picture following an interview with Reuters in Mexico City October 15, 2012. REUTERS/Henry Romero

Luxembourg Finance Minister Luc Frieden poses for a picture following an interview with Reuters in Mexico City October 15, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Henry Romero

BERLIN (Reuters) - Luxembourg is prepared to ease its banking secrecy rules and work more closely with foreign tax authorities, Finance Minister Luc Frieden told a paper, in a comment welcomed by Germany which wants to crack down on tax havens.

Frieden told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung there was an international trend towards automatically exchanging information about depositors, adding; "We no longer strictly reject this, in contrast to before."

"Luxembourg does not rely on clients who want to save tax," he said.

Last month's 10 billion euro bailout of Cyprus, whose banking system was swollen by foreign deposits attracted by low taxes and easy regulation, has put the spotlight on tax havens.

Austria and Luxembourg are the only European Union states that do not share with other EU members the identities of EU residents with cross-border bank accounts.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said he was pleased with the comments from Luxembourg.

"I welcome every step towards automatic information exchange," he told the Saarbruecker Zeitung newspaper.

Amid growing outrage over the scale of tax evasion, Schaeuble said last week Berlin would push the EU to take legal measures against tax havens. The German government this weekend also urged several German publications to hand over details they have obtained on suspected tax cheats.

(Reporting by Alexandra Hudson; Editing by Jason Webb)

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