October 22, 2009 / 3:54 PM / 10 years ago

UPDATE 2-Swiss FinMin worried over Italy "attacks" on banks

* Merz concerned at how Italy is enforcing tax amnesty

* Amnesty could drain money from Ticino banks

(Recasts, adds spokesperson’s comment)

ZURICH, Oct 22 (Reuters) - Swiss President and Finance Minister Hans Rudolf Merz said on Thursday that he was concerned about the way in which Italy was enforcing a tax amnesty that could hit Swiss banks in the Ticino region.

Since the amnesty was passed into law earlier this month, Italian border police have intensified checks on people crossing the frontier into Switzerland, including many who cross daily for business.

“They are rather exaggerating now. This is not what we consider a neighbourly relationship, especially as Switzerland has adhered to the internal money laundering laws,” said a ministry spokeswoman.

Earlier the Swiss finance ministry said in a statement that Merz had met representatives from banks in the Italian-speaking Swiss canton of Ticino to take stock of the situation.

Under the terms of the tax amnesty — Italy’s third in a decade — Italians holding undeclared funds in certain non-European Union countries, including Switzerland, must repatriate the funds to benefit from the amnesty. [nLA55054]

The ministry statement said Merz would meet with local government officials in the near future to discuss Italy’s “attacks” on the canton’s banks and take stock of the situation.

Analysts expect the amnesty to have a large impact on the private banks in the Italian-speaking Swiss canton of Ticino, which is just across the Italian border and is a traditional offshore centre for Italians. [ID:nLN68195] (Reporting by Martin de Sa’Pinto; editing by Erica Billingham and Karen Foster)

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