| WASHINGTON, April 19
WASHINGTON, April 19 Fourteen countries,
including Switzerland, were called out on Friday by the
Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and
Development (OECD) for not meeting new global standards meant to
crack down on tax dodgers.
The standards - which call for automatic data exchange
between countries when tax cheating is suspected - reflect a
tougher approach in recent years by the United States, Britain,
Germany and other developed countries toward tax avoidance.
The OECD, a club for wealthy nations, issued a report on the
topic to the Group of 20 finance ministers meeting at the
International Monetary Fund and World Bank semi-annual
conference in Washington.
Besides Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates and Panama
were among the 14 countries named as failing to meet the OECD's
Phase 2 standard of effectiveness in international information
"Significant progress has been made ... but significant
progress remains to be made," Pascal Saint-Amans, director of
OECD's Centre for Tax Policy, told reporters.
"Switzerland for the time being is stuck," he said,
acknowledging that Switzerland has made progress, but is not
done yet with changing its ways, Saint-Amans said.
The Alpine nation - an historical bastion of banking secrecy
- has been under fire for several years for turning a blind eye
to the sheltering of taxable income by its banking sector.
UBS AG, Switzerland's largest bank, paid $780
million in 2009 and handed over thousands of client names to
settle U.S. charges that it helped U.S. citizens hide funds.
Tax evasion has dominated European headlines in recent
weeks, following the admission by a disgraced former French
minister that he held a Swiss account and the recent leak of
thousands of holders of secret bank accounts worldwide.
Earlier this week, sources told Reuters that Swiss and U.S.
governments were weighing a possible solution to end their
long-standing dispute over Swiss banks accused of helping
wealthy Americans evade billions of dollars in taxes.
Formed after World War Two to promote cooperation and
reconstruction, the OECD can urge change on its 34 member
nations, but it is largely up to individual governments to carry
"There still continues to be a disconnect between letter of
the law and application of the law," said Heather Lowe, counsel
for Global Financial Integrity, an advocacy group.
The OECD's Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of
Information has completed reviews of 100 countries so far, which
are adopted by consensus of its 119 members.