March 25, 2009 / 7:48 PM / 11 years ago

Swiss to discuss tax co-operation with U.S., Japan

ZURICH (Reuters) - Switzerland will approach the United States and Japan to review existing double-taxation agreements to offer more cooperation in the fight against tax evasion, President Hans-Rudolf Merz said on Wednesday.

Discussion with the United States are key for Switzerland in light of a high-profile tax fraud investigation involving Switzerland’s largest bank UBS UBSN.VX(UBS.N) that has forced Berne to hand over confidential bank client data to Washington.

“With the United States we must start as quickly as possible,” Merz told Swiss television.

Further pressure by G20 countries have prompted Switzerland and other main offshore financial centers to agree earlier this month to sign up for tax cooperation standards set up by the Organization for the Economic Co-Operation and Development.

The G20 group of industrialized and developing nations will discuss the fight against tax evasion in offshore centers among other issues at their upcoming meeting on April 2.

Tax talks between Berne and Japan were already ongoing.

The European Union, with which Switzerland already has a tax co-operation agreement under the framework of the so-called savings tax directive, is not on Berne’s priority list.

EU members France, Poland, Denmark and The Netherlands have already approached Switzerland to review existing tax agreements, but not Germany, which has harshly criticized Switzerland for its bank secrecy law, Swiss television said.

Writing by Lisa Jucca; Editing by Bernard Orr

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