(Adds denial from Swiss, quotes from Italian minister)
BRUSSELS/MILAN Jan 29 Italy and Switzerland are
still in talks to allow full disclosure of Italian savers'
holdings in Swiss banks, Rome and Bern said on Wednesday,
denying reports negotiations had broken down.
"They haven't broken down. Tomorrow I am going to Bern and
the negotiations are ongoing over all the fiscal questions open
with Switzerland," Italy's Economy Minister Fabrizio Saccomanni
told reporters in Brussels.
A Swiss finance ministry spokeswoman also denied the reports
and said the Italian and Swiss ministers would hold a bilateral
meeting on Thursday.
Earlier on Wednesday an Italian government source told
Reuters the talks had broken down after Rome's decision last
week to offer a partial amnesty to tax evaders who had stashed
assets abroad, as also reported by Italian daily la Repubblica.
The new Italian legislation entails discounts on
administrative and criminal charges for tax dodgers who
voluntarily declare their hidden assets held outside the
country. However, they would still be liable for prosecution for
more serious financial crimes.
"The new Italian rules are the premise for a bilateral
agreement because they clarify the legal framework Italy will
use with non-cooperative taxpayers," Saccomanni said.
Italy has long suffered rampant tax evasion and successive
governments have pledged crackdowns with the aim of reducing the
fiscal burden on honest Italians and relieving the strain on
public finances, amid the country's longest postwar recession.
In 2013, the finance police discovered more than 8,000
Italian businesses that had declared no income whatsoever but
were hiding an estimated 16 billion euros in taxable revenue,
according to annual figures published last week.
The finance police also discovered more than 15 billion
euros in revenue and assets hidden outside the country in 2013,
mostly in tax havens, the figures showed.
(Reporting by Francesco Guarascio and Elvira Pollina; writing
by Gavin Jones and Francesca Landini; editing by Andrew Roche)