BERNE, July 26 (Reuters) - Neutral Switzerland has got an overall rating of “largely compliant” in an international review of how well it shares information with other countries on tax matters, the finance ministry said on Tuesday.
Swiss officials hailed the outcome as crucial recognition of their efforts to shed the country’s reputation as a haven for stashing dirty money out of sight of tax authorities abroad.
It puts Switzerland, whose financial centre is the world’s biggest for managing offshore wealth, on the same level as rivals including Singapore, Liechtenstein, Hong Kong, Britain and the United States.
The findings of the peer review by the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes, which is overseen by the OECD club of wealthy countries, emerged after the second phase of scrutiny that began in 2011.
Two areas of concern that remained include identifying the owners of bearer shares and dealing with stolen data, the ministry said. But the Global Forum welcomed Switzerland’s move to ease administrative assistance in tax matters and extend its network of double-taxation agreements.
The Global Forum in 2013 had said Switzerland was among the countries that did not meet international standards on tax transparency, potentially putting investments in the countries at risk.
“What we achieved for Switzerland is absolutely central,” Finance Minister Ueli Maurer told a news conference, saying international recognition was crucial to ensure financial stability and to conduct business as usual.
With bank account secrecy for tax avoidance now largely abolished, Switzerland in future will have to rely on its reputation for political and economic stability to win business, he added.
A new review round on how countries exchange information on request begins this year, with Switzerland’s review due to start in 2018.
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here (Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Hugh Lawson)