BELLINZONA, Switzerland May 7 Switzerland's
finance minister said on Wednesday it should be possible to
reach a deal with Italy over long-running negotiations aimed at
disclosing Italian savers' secret holdings in Swiss bank
accounts by the end of the year.
Talks between the two countries have been delayed by
government changes in Italy, which has long suffered rampant tax
evasion on which successive administrations have pledged to
"It is possible to reach an agreement by the end of this
year," Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf told Reuters on the sidelines of
an event in the Swiss town of Bellinzona.
Widmer-Schlumpf said the most recent interruption to the
talks, which came with the end of former Prime Minister Enrico
Letta's tenure, had delayed proceedings by two or three months.
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development
has proposed governments automatically share information on
taxpayers' offshore bank and brokerage accounts with foreign tax
Widmer-Schlumpf said that Switzerland's adhering to this
automatic exchange system would not be compatible with remaining
on Italy's "black list" of countries that do not fully cooperate
in the fight against tax evasion.
Lawmakers estimate that as much as 250 billion euros ($350
billion) in Italian assets reside outside the country, much of
it in Switzerland. More than 15 billion euros in revenue and
assets were hidden outside Italy in 2013, mostly in tax havens,
according to figures published in January.
The automatic exchange system will not apply to transactions
which occurred in the past.
"We need to find a solution for what happened in the past.
The automatic exchange of information does not apply to the past
so we need to find common ground," Widmer-Schlumpf said. She did
not elaborate on details of the talks.
($1 = 0.7183 Euros)
(Reporting by Elvira Pollina; writing by Isla Binnie; editing
by Andrew Roche)