VIENNA, April 12 Austria said on Thursday it had
agreed "in principle" to a deal with Switzerland that will claw
back taxes on wealth its citizens have stashed in secret Swiss
It hopes its finance minister will be able to sign it
formally on Friday.
"I plan to fly to Berne on Friday to sign the agreement with
my Swiss colleague," Finance Minister Maria Fekter said in an
interview with newspaper Oesterreich.
A spokesman for the finance ministry said the pact was not
complete but agreed to in principle.
Austria is rushing to clinch a deal with Switzerland that
could net the country a 1 billion euro ($1.31 billion) tax
windfall by cracking down on alleged tax cheats and dodgers,
money it needs to help balance the budget by 2016.
Vienna estimates there are some 12 billion to 20 billion
euros in undeclared Austrian funds in accounts in neighbouring
Switzerland. Securing a deal by the end of the week would be a
coup for Fekter, who wants the tax money to start flowing by
A spokesman for the Swiss government was not immediately
available for comment.
Switzerland has already struck deals with Britain and
Germany to claw back taxes from nationals using Swiss banking
secrecy to hide savings from the taxman.
The withholding tax agreements have led to behind-the-scenes
debate among Swiss private bankers, some of whom question
whether the pacts still make financial sense for Switzerland
after Germany and Britain extracted additional concessions to
original deals reached last year.
On Thursday, the head of Switzerland's banking lobby said
that group would not support more concessions in future Swiss
"We see the German and British amendments as acceptable, but
these are the last concessions we are willing to make. Our
opinion is not to go any further," Swiss banking lobby head
Claude-Alain Margelisch told a group of journalists.
($1 = 0.7622 euros)
(Reporting by Angelika Gruber, writing by Caroline Copley.
Editing by Jeremy Gaunt.)