* German Finmin wants mediation to save deal
* Opposition parties determined to oppose
BERLIN Nov 28 The German government has
attempted to salvage a tax deal with Switzerland worth millions
of euros which was blocked in a political battle over how much
tax the wealthy pay.
The government on Wednesday referred the deal to a special
mediation committee after it was thrown out by opposition-run
federal states in the upper house Bundesrat last week.
Championed by Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, the
agreement would have allowed Germany to tax assets stashed away
by its citizens in Swiss bank accounts.
The opposition Social Democrats (SPD) and Greens, keen to
make taxation of the rich an issue in campaigning for next
September's federal election, argued that the legislation would
have let off tax evaders too easily.
"In the mediation committee good sense and the strong
reasons for this deal should win out," government spokesman
Steffen Seibert told reporters at a regular press conference on
Wednesday after the weekly cabinet meeting.
"The government is convinced this deal is a good thing, that
we cannot achieve anything better and that it offers good
solutions for the future and for the past. We are prepared to
discuss things and we trust there is the same willingness on the
The deal is due to take effect from the start of 2013. The
mediation committee includes members of both German houses of
"It is in Germany's interests for this deal to go through,"
Chancellor Angela Merkel's centre-right government struck
the pact with Switzerland in April but without a majority in the
Bundesrat, where Germany's 16 states are represented, it needed
The deal would have required Swiss banks to levy a punitive
charge on an estimated 150 billion Swiss francs ($160 billion)
in undeclared funds squirreled away by Germans in Swiss
accounts. Future holdings by German citizens would be treated on
a par with those held in Germany.
The proceeds would be passed on to Germany, including its 16
Laender, or states, without the identities of the account
holders being revealed.
The chances for mediation to succeed appear slim, however,
with the SPD dead-set on torpedoing the deal. In addition, as
the legislation is already fully ratified in Switzerland, there
is little room for changes.
(Reporting by Alexandra Hudson, editing by Gareth Jones and)